Racial Reconciliation or Spiritual Smokescreens?: Blackwashing the Crisis Pregnancy Center Movement
- 322 Downloads
Beginning in the early 2000s, evangelical crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) sought to establish themselves in areas where they perceive Black women, who have disproportionately higher rates of abortion relative to other racial-ethnic groups, will be drawn to their services. These efforts are tied to larger racial reconciliation efforts by white evangelicals. To this end, in this article we explore how the evangelical CPC movement understands Black women’s higher abortion rates, the solutions they seek to offer Black women to persuade them not to abort, the expansion of the movement into minority areas and how the CPC movement justified this encroachment, and the role of Black leaders and symbolic inclusion through “blackwashing” in this expansion. Drawing upon an ethnographic content analysis, we argue that CPC activism in urban areas is not substantially different from its approaches in white and/or suburban areas and inclusion of Black perspectives and activists is limited to a surface-level veneer we refer to as blackwashing. Throughout the paper, we also provide a counter-narrative examining CPC activists’ claims about Black women and abortion and find many of them to be lacking in veracity.
KeywordsCrisis pregnancy centers Evangelicals Abortion Social movements Racial reconciliation
The authors wish to thank our colleagues Linda Grant, Margaret Hagerman and Sarah E. Pellegrine for their thoughtful reviews of earlier drafts of this article.
- Apple, Michael W. 2011. Rightist education and godly technology: Cultural politics, gender, and the work of home schooling. Multidisciplinary Journal of Educational Research 1 (1): 5–33.Google Scholar
- Bartkowski, John P. 2004. The Promise Keepers: Servants, soldiers, and godly men. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Bartkowski, John P., and Helen A. Regis. 2003. Charitable choices: Religion, race, and poverty in the post-welfare era. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Bernhard, B.J., R. Futrell, and A. Harper. 2010. "Shots from the pulpit": An ethnographic content analysis of United States anti-gambling social movement documents. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal 14 (2): 15–32.Google Scholar
- Birthright International. 2017. Locations. http://birthright.org/en/search-birthrights?view=search®=1. Accessed 1 November 2017.
- Bomberger, Ryan. 2013. NAACP: National Association for the Abortion of Colored People. Life News, January 16. http://www.lifenews.com/2013/01/16/naacp-national-association-for-the-abortion-of-colored-people/. Accessed 3 July 2016.
- Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. 2013. Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Lantham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
- Care Net. 2008. Have your baby…For no one knows whose womb holds the chief. Lansdowne: Care Net.Google Scholar
- Care Net. 2009a. Care Net annual report. Lansdowne: Care Net.Google Scholar
- Care Net. 2009b. Care Net celebrates 25th National Pregnancy Center Conference in Atlanta. Press release dated Oct. 9, 2008. http://www.care-net.org/newsroom/press_release.php?id=59. Accessed 10 December 2009.
- Care Net. 2009c. Conference Speakers. http://www.care-net.org/events/conference/speakers.php. Accessed 10 December 2009.
- Care Net. 2009d. Underserved outreach: Promoting and supporting the development of pregnancy centers in underserved communities. http://www.care-net.org/ourwork/program.php?id=1. Accessed 10 December 2009.
- Crary, David. 2006. Anti-abortion activists eye inner cities. Washington, DC: The Washington Post.Google Scholar
- Curtin, Sally C., Stephanie J. Ventura, and Gladys M. Martinez. 2014. Recent declines in nonmarital childbearing in the United States. No. 2014. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
- Edin, Kathryn, and Maria Kefalas. 2005. Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Emerson, Michael O., and Christian Smith. 2000. Divided by faith: Evangelical religion and the problem of race in America. New York City, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Enouen, Susan W. 2005. Planned Parenthood abortion facilities target African American communities. Life Issues Connector. Cincinnati: Life Issues Institute.Google Scholar
- Ensor, John. 2008. Pray for the third wave: Latinos and Blacks join the fray as Roe v. Wade turns 35. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/pray-for-the-third-wave. Accessed 16 December 2017.
- Entsminger, Kurt. 2006. Care Net on election results: Pregnancy centers will play critical role in years ahead. http://www.standardnewswire.com/news/94807243.html. Accessed 15 June 2008.
- Epps, Lillie. 2007. Black history month: The price of choice for African Americans. http://www.care-net.org/publications/blackhistorymonth.html. Accessed 29 May 2016.
- Ertelt, Steven. 2004. NAACP criticized for adopting pro-abortion policy position. Life News, March 19. http://www.lifenews.com/2004/03/19/nat-390. Accessed 2 July 2016.
- Evans, Tony. 2006. National church adopt-a-school initiative. churchadoptaschool.org/church-school-partnerships/. Accessed 5 July 2006.
- Family Research Council. 2012. A passion to serve, a vision for life. Washington, D.C.: Pregnancy Resource Center Service Report.Google Scholar
- Franks, Angela. 2004. Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood: The eugenics connection. National Right to Life News 31(7). http://www.nrlc.org/news/2004/NRL07/margaret_sanger_and_planned_pare.htm. Accessed 10 June 2009.
- Frost Jennifer J., Lori F. Frohwirth, Mia R. Zolna. 2016. Contraceptive needs and services, 2014 update. Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/contraceptiveneeds-and-services-2014-update. Accessed 1 December 2017.
- Gibbs, Nancy. 2007. The grassroots abortion war. Time Magazine, February 15. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1590444,00.html. Accessed 29 May 2016.
- Glaser, Barney, and Anselm L. Strauss. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
- Glessner, Thomas A. 1990. Achieving an abortion-free America by 2001. Portland: Multnomah Press.Google Scholar
- Guttmacher Institute. 2014. Claim that most abortion clinics are located in Black or Hispanic neighborhoods is false. https://www.guttmacher.org/article/2014/06/claim-most-abortion-clinics-are-located-black-or-hispanic-neighborhoods-false. Accessed 5 December 2017.
- Hall, Randy. 2005. Abortion causing “Black genocide,” activists say. http://www.crosswalk.com/1311395/. Accessed 5 July 2016.
- Hansen, Kristin. 2004. Abortion in Black America: NAACP endorses problem, Care Net offers help. https://www.care-net.org/press-release-041904. Accessed 5 July 2016.
- Hartshorn, Margaret. 2003. Pregnancy help centers, abstinence, STDs, and healing: Putting it all together. In Back to the drawing board: The future of the pro-life movement, ed. Teresa R. Wagner, 106–120. South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press.Google Scholar
- Heartbeat International. 2009. Speaker information for the 2009 Annual Conference. http://www.heartbeatinternational.org/Trainings/Conference/Speakers.htm. Accessed 10 December 2009.
- Heartbeat of Miami. 2007. About us. http://heartbeatofmiami.org/about/. Accessed 10 December 2009.
- Hughey, Matthew. 2012. White bound: Nationalists, antiracists, and the shared meanings of race. California: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Jerman, Jenna, Rachel K. Jones, and Tsuyoshi Onda. 2016. Characteristics of U.S. abortion patients in 2014 and changes since 2008. New York: Guttmacher Institute. https://www.guttmacher.org/report/characteristics-us-abortion-patients-2014. Accessed 1 December 2017.
- Jones, Rachel K., Lawrence B. Finer, and Susheela Singh. 2010. Characteristics of U.S. abortion patients, 2008. New York: Guttmacher Institute.Google Scholar
- Kennedy, John W. 2006. Better late than never: Pregnancy care centers move to the inner city. Christianity Today Magazine. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/december/6.17.html. Accessed 20 June 2009.
- Lee, Michelle Ye Hee. 2017. Are most Planned Parenthood clinics in urban areas where women have adequate access to care? Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/10/03/are-most-planned-parenthood-clinics-in-urban-areas-where-women-have-adequate-access-to-care/?utm_term=.448697cdf4a3. Accessed 14 December 2017.
- Lin, Vitoria and Cynthia Dailard. 2002. Crisis pregnancy centers seek to increase political clout, secure government subsidy. The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy.Google Scholar
- Munson, Ziad. 2009. The making of pro-life activists: How social movement mobilization works. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Care Net. 2006. Time for abortion in the Black community to be history, Care Net says. https://www.care-net.org/press-release-020106. Accessed 5 July 2016.
- O’Bannon, Randall K. 1999. Part I: The task of the modern CPC. National Right to Life News www.nrlc.org/news/1999/nrc699/cpc.html. Accessed 6 March 2009.
- Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church. 2009. About our senior pastor. http://www.ocbfchurch.org/index.cfm/PageID/660/index.html. Accessed 9 July 2009.
- Piper, John. 2007. When is abortion racism? http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2007/1951_When_Is_Abortion_Racism/. Accessed 2 July 2016.
- Simon, Stephanie. 2007. Abortion foes are getting public funds: At least 8 states subsidize centers whose goal is to ensure pregnant women give birth. Los Angeles Times. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/12/MNGT0O32TB1.DTL. Accessed 6 March 2009.
- Simpson, Janine. 2005. The urban initiative. Center of Tomorrow Spring: 5–20.Google Scholar
- Smith, Andrea. 2002. Devil’s in the details. Colorlines. http://www.colorlines.com/articles/devils-details. Accessed 5 July 2016.
- Smith, Christian, Michael Emerson, Sally Gallagher, Paul Kennedy, and David Sikkink. 1998. American evangelicalism: Embattled and thriving. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Sweeney, Kathleen. 2004. Africa-American pro-lifers are on the move. http://www.nrlc.org/archive/news/2004/NRL07/african.htm. Accessed 22 June 2016.
- Taylor, Justin. 2007. An interview with John Ensor. http://theologica.blogspot.com/2007/02/interview-with-john-ensor.html. Accessed 16 December 2017.
- The Turn Around Agenda Fact Sheet. 2011. https://www.turnaroundagenda.org/images/images_A3084/TTA-FactSheetOct11.pdf. Accessed 14 December 2017.
- Vespa, Jonathan, Jamie M. Lewis, and Rose M. Kreider. 2012. 2013 America’s families and living arrangements. Current Population Reports 20: P570.Google Scholar
- Vincent, Lynn. 2007. Urban battleground. Asheville, NC: World Magazine.Google Scholar
- Vincent, Lynn. 2009. Black genocide. Asheville, NC: World Magazine.Google Scholar
- Wadsworth, Nancy D. 2014. Ambivalent miracles: Evangelicals and the politics of racial healing. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.Google Scholar