by Park MacDougald
Tuesday, 26
July 2022
Response
10:30

The abortion debate has nothing to do with white supremacy

A liberal publication makes a ludicrous claim
by Park MacDougald
Credit: Getty

Do you believe that life begins at conception? In that case, to paraphrase a famous SNL sketch, you might be a racist.

That, at least, is the thesis of an article at FiveThirtyEight called “How the Fight to Ban Abortion Is Rooted In The ‘Great Replacement’ Theory”, a reference to the far-Right theory (examined in this magazine by Eric Kaufmann) that Western elites are intentionally using immigration to replace white natives with more politically pliable minorities. 

How could the American anti-abortion movement, which began in earnest in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, be “rooted” in a theory first articulated by a French intellectual in 2010? The authors identify a handful of modern pro-lifers concerned with the white birth rate, point to the nativist and eugenicist sympathies of certain historical anti-abortion campaigners, and cite an expert from something called the “Institute on Male Supremacism” who says that 19th-century abortion restrictions were a product of Anglo-Saxon demographic panic. There’s also something about the Buffalo shooting. The conclusion is that the “anti-abortion movement, at its core, has always been about upholding white supremacy.”

Well, how about that? Never mind that the most reliable predictor of pro-life sympathies in America is religiosity, such that even black Christians, though more pro-choice than white Catholics and Evangelicals, are significantly more opposed to abortion than the religiously unaffiliated. Or that foreign-born Hispanics are more opposed to abortion than those born in the United States, which would be odd for a belief premised on the desire to exclude immigrants. Pay no attention to that — the experts have spoken, and their verdict is that whatever pro-lifers say they believe in, they’re in fact motivated by a racist, debunked conspiracy theory, not so different from the racist conspiracy theories that motivated people to storm the Capitol

The article is a good example of what the media critic Andrey Mir calls “post-journalism”, which accounts for a lot of what is now published under the banner of news. Rather than establishing the facts and then attempting to build a narrative around them, the point is to fit the flux of events into a preconceived ideological narrative. Here, that narrative goes something like this: we American progressives are rational, kind and civilised people, while conservatives are backward and racist. (The Right is not immune to post-journalism, though it’s version has considerably less prestige.)

The trick works on almost any topic. Conservatives like Tucker Carlson have recently been making noise about the overprescription of antidepressants, so here’s Rolling Stone to explain that criticism of SSRIs — a longstanding position that transcends ideological boundaries — is a “bullshit moral panic” cooked up by the “Far Right”. The article quotes a doctor to the effect that SSRI side-effects are “very tolerable” and “usually short-lived.” Is that true? Well, maybe. The details aren’t important. The important thing is that the nutjobs are getting worked up over nothing again.  

One of the most long-standing criticisms of liberalism as a political philosophy is that it has difficulty conceiving of non-liberal positions as real political beliefs, rather than as simple ignorance or malice. If anything, the recent fad among the American media class for “fact-checking” and combating “misinformation” has made this tendency worse. 

The problem is that there’s no purely factual answer to the question of how we should evaluate the costs and benefits of SSRIs nor how we should set our abortion policy; these are partly political and in some sense partly religious questions, involving disputes about human nature and the purpose of life. It’s a child’s view of the world in which only the stupid or the evil can come to different conclusions than one’s own. 

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Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
23 days ago

In the United States, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women. Almost 80% of Planned Parenthood’s surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African and/or Hispanic communities. More than 19 million black babies have been aborted since 1973. So yes, the abortion debate would seem to have a lot to do with white supremacy and the management of non-white populations… but not in the way intended by the churnalists at FiveThirtyEight.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
23 days ago

Prior to Roe, black women were 3 times more likely to die from illegal abortion. These women are getting abortions because they are poor, not because they enjoy getting abortions.
If we want to save babies, we need to put as much effort into protecting children outside the womb as “pro-lifers” put into protecting fetuses.
Most women do not “want” abortions, they get them out of pure economic desperation.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
23 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

In the U.K., contraceptives are free however we still have women going for abortions. It’s not purely economic, it’s because frequently they don’t think it will happen to them. I have worked with young people who have stated they don’t want the pill because it messes with their menses and condoms are too finicky during the heat of passion and they’d rather risk it. Then there are those that want to trap the boyfriend with a baby and if that plan goes awry and it’s early enough an abortion….
We like to think that no woman would abort a child for any other reason than desperation but in the U.K. we have a female politician who stated that it’s no worse than going to the dentist and admitted to having one out of convenience. She isn’t alone.

Last edited 23 days ago by Lindsay Snoman
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
23 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I think they mostly get abortions because they carelessly got pregnant and they do not want a child. Also they know there is little or no chance of the father hanging around.
Do not pretend they are driven by economic desperation.

Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
23 days ago

? A p***s shot the bullet?

Last edited 23 days ago by colr
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
23 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

You’re missing Lennon’s point. He is not arguing for or against abortion. What he is saying is that the prohibition of abortion would decrease the proportion of the US population that is white and not, as FiveThirtyEight claim, increase the proportion.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
23 days ago

To be fair to FiveThirtyEight their article recognises the stupidity of the claim that anti-abortion laws would not increase the proportion of the population that is white but ascribes the supposed racist basis for anti-abortion to the stupidity of those advocating anti-abortion legislation. Hence they argue the racist right “basically had to just make stuff up to justify what they wanted, which is for women — especially women of color — to not have any rights,” said Thompson, the historian.”
The FiveThreeEight article finds some quotes from some anti-black racists in favour of abortion to argue that all those against abortion are stupid so are in favour of banning abortion for a stupid reason. The fact that large portions of the population who are evidently not motivated by these stupid motives is simply skated over. The article commented on by the Unherd author is really so flimsy and absurd as not really to be worth commenting on.

Last edited 23 days ago by Jeremy Bray
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
23 days ago

And, similarly, globally, more girl babies than boy babies are aborted. Something the abortionistas always gloss over.

R Wright
R Wright
23 days ago

Ironically many actual far-rightists are in favour of Roe v Wade because it suppresses the black birth rate in the U.S considerably due to black women using the servive at a far higher rate than white women. In that sense, abortion clinics are a useful tool for those that oppose ‘the Great Replacement’.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
23 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Exactly. In one recent year, more black babies were aborted in the state of New York than were born. And I would imagine this applies most years. I am pro-choice, but the fact is that those who cheer for abortion are suppressing the black population.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
23 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

So – In fact it’s the black women who are suppressing the black population. If the situation re many UK black fathers (disappearing and failing to support partner and child) is the same in the US then black men are equally responsible (or should that be irresponsible?)

Si Mon
Si Mon
23 days ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

More babies aborted than born – where did you read that? I’d like to learn more about that statistic

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
22 days ago
Reply to  Si Mon

I think it is common knowledge with regard to black women, at least in one recent year, in New York state.
Of course, this is a state where full term abortion is actively celebrated by while liberals and their fellow travellers.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
23 days ago
Reply to  R Wright

Black women will still get abortions post-Roe. It is far easier today to obtain medications that cause abortion today than it was prior to Roe, especially in Mexico where a simple stop at a pharmacy will get you cheap abortion meds that you can take before crossing the border back home.
It is actually cheaper to get abortion meds in Mexico than it is to get an abortion in the USA, so poor women have been doing this – at least in Texas – for years now.
Overturning Roe won’t change anything for most poor women, who have not been able to afford legal abortions for decades.
Poor women will continue to risk their lives having home abortions until we start offering more support to them and their children.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
23 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Unless you believe poor women are poor because they are stupid, they will continue to have abortions until they bother to pay attention to sex education lessons at school.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
23 days ago

It is a strange thesis, given that many more black women have abortions than white women. In some southern states I read that 70% of abortions are carried out on black women.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
23 days ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

When you control for poverty, you will find the abortion rate is the same for black women & white women.

Si Mon
Si Mon
23 days ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

How can poverty be the only differential? Religion, culture and social pressures must also make play their part

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
23 days ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

The article the author is commenting on recognises the stupidity of the thesis that reducing the number of abortions would increase the proportion of white to black babies borne but having found a few stupid right wingers to quote ascribe these stupid views to all anti-abortion supporters. A thoroughly specious and duplicitous claim.

The sub-heading says it all: “A liberal publication makes a ludicrous claim”.

Last edited 23 days ago by Jeremy Bray
Jim Davis
Jim Davis
23 days ago

As others are handling the abortion thesis well I will weigh in on the issue of over prescription of antidepressants, in particular SSRIs. The side effects of SSRIs, in particular weight gain and loss of libido over long term use, are well known. A major new umbrella review, published on July 20 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, suggests that depression is not likely caused by chemical imbalance, and calls into question what antidepressant medications do.

Last edited 23 days ago by Jim Davis
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
23 days ago
Reply to  Jim Davis

I think we have all known for years that these anti-depressants – and indeed most such drugs – are a giant racket.

Danny Miller
Danny Miller
23 days ago

History contradicts any theory that the religious right, the staunchest pro-life demographic, is motivated by a desire to see fewer black or brown babies. It was the founder of Planned Parenthood, a vocal eugenicist, who conspired with black ministers to promote sterilization and birth control programs among young black women to reduce black birthrates. She wrote: We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members”.
Lest anyone think that her motives were noble and simply attempting to assist poor pregnant women, history will also show that she and the “progressive” left of the early 20th century believed as she once said “The lack of balance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit,” admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. The example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken, should not be held up for emulation…. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupid, cruel sentimentalism.
Those considered “unfit” were not white middle and upper class Americans. “Sanger felt that poor people, disabled persons, and people of color should not reproduce, and she stated so quite openly. Her advocacy for birth control was rooted in part in a desire to advance a eugenic agenda”, an acknowledgement the abortion advocates have had to admit.
Yes – people of color were targets for her programs because she actually was a racist. There is a reason why 80% of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are still within walking distance of African American and or Hispanic communities. Pro-Life leaders had no role in the placement of these facilities.
It is also completely illogical to suggest that Pro-Life proponents who have consistently argued that every life (“red, yellow, black and white”) is sacred and should be protected are secretly plotting to lower birthrates among people of color. The term “racist” is thrown about without any regard for truth today.

Saul D
Saul D
22 days ago

FiveThirtyEight has some good data, but lousy columnists. For a site discussing polling, it’s seems totally unable to write taking the perspective of 40% of the US voting population – to explain their views in their words, taken from the data the site champions.
Anyone doing proper polling research has to be able to accurately understand all shades of opinion and to report it without bias, otherwise you end up misusing data and misleading your forecasts.
Instead it’s columnists repeatedly undermine and ignore representative data in order to follow a pre-written regurgitated script and talking points from one side of the aisle. Often, as in this case, expressing one-sided speculations that have no solid basis in the data they study.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
22 days ago
Reply to  Saul D

Agreed. 538 article is nothing more than specious propaganda.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
23 days ago

I appreciate comedian Bill Burr’s take on this topic. He’s pro-choice, but readily admits that abortion really is about the killing of a baby.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
23 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I’m pro choice but not because I believe the line “my body my choice”, but because I believe in quality over quantity and we already have too many children in the care system. I deeply wish more women would embrace contraceptives and not use abortions as a form of emergency contraceptive but until that happens, I wouldn’t want to force these selfish and irresponsible women on innocent children.

Karl Schuldes
Karl Schuldes
23 days ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

So you’re saying it’s mercy killing