Why Won’t the Left Talk About Racial Disparities in Abortion?

Abortion rates vary widely among different demographics. Northeast Black women have a higher rate of abortion than white non-Hispanic women, as well as other groups in the region. This is despite a lower proportion of abortions performed on blacks and two to three times more likely chance that such an abortion would be reported by whites when compared with African Americans.


On May 7, a demonstration against prospective abortion restrictions follows the disclosure of Justice Alito’s draft judgment.

Chris Riha/Zuma Press photo

In 1992, Bill Clinton famously said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and uncommon.” His intention was to bring together liberal and moderate Democrats on the subject, but the phrase also emphasized that abortion was correctly considered as unwanted, even among supporters of Roe v. Wade: the fewer, the better.

The abortion rate in the United States has decreased in the three decades since—now it’s about half of what it was in the early 1980s—but large racial inequities remain. In other cases, the political left has been alarmed by group variations in result. The racial disparity in test performance has prompted proposals to abolish the SAT and other entrance exams. The racial disparity in arrest and imprisonment rates has prompted proposals to decriminalize narcotics and cut law enforcement resources. Progressive calls for slavery reparations and a greater welfare state are fueled by racial wealth and income disparities. And so forth.

However, when it comes to abortion, left-wing interest seems to be limited to keeping the process safe and legal, despite the fact that gaps between black and white people have not only maintained but expanded. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the black abortion rate is roughly four times greater than the white rate, according to a 2020 study by public-health expert James Studnicki and two co-authors: “From 2007 to 2016, the Black rate fell by 29% while the White rate fell by 33%, indicating that the racial difference expanded rather than diminished.” “There are parts of New York City in which black infants are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born alive—and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children in the same area,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in a concurring opinion in a 2019 abortion case.

Mr. Studnicki and his co-authors also come to the conclusion that abortion has a significant influence on the size of the black population. They take Pennsylvania as an example, noting that there were around 61,000 premature white deaths from all causes in 2018 and 21,000 early black deaths. “Abortions accounted for 23.9 percent of White mortality and 62.7 percent of Black deaths,” says the report.

The number of black women who have abortions each year greatly outnumbers the number of black people who drop out of school, go to jail, or are killed. Because lower-income women are more likely to have abortions and black women are more likely to have lower incomes, pro-choice campaigners often disregard these facts as a result of poverty. However, black women still have considerably greater rates of abortion than other lower-income populations, such as Hispanics.

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In his book “Is Marriage for White People?” Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks proposes a more logical answer. Mr. Banks speculates that having a husband may be the most important factor in a woman’s choice to seek an abortion. He says, “A single woman with an unanticipated pregnancy is almost twice as likely to abort as a married woman.” “Black women are consequently more likely than other groups to have abortions, in part because they are less likely to be married.”

He adds that, despite the fact that single black women are less likely to abort than other categories of single women, black women nonetheless have more abortions than white women since they are significantly more likely to be single. “Some of the racial differences in abortion are yet another expense of the black marriage collapse.”

You’d think that activists and media elites preoccupied with equity—and who have spent the better part of a decade lecturing the public about the importance of black lives—would be more interested in the Roe decision’s contribution to racial disparity. For over 30 years, the black poverty rate has been around a third greater than the white rate. During the same time span, however, poverty among married blacks has been in the single digits. In certain years, the poverty rate for black married couples has been lower than the overall poverty rate for both blacks and whites. Why not concentrate on how to boost black marriage rates if activists think that better black wages would lead to fewer black abortions?

One issue is that such a discussion necessitates an open discussion of low-income black communities’ unproductive views on marriage and single motherhood. It necessitates a discussion of antisocial conduct as well as personal accountability. The Democratic left has built a political platform on avoiding such topics and accused anybody who does so of racism. Legal abortion has the greatest effect on America’s black population, but we’re not permitted to speak about it.

Wonderland: Overturning Roe will undermine not only abortion rights, but a whole ideology of American politics that began 50 years ago with Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.” Image courtesy of AFP/Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

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The print issue of the May 11, 2022, was published.

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