Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
February 24, 2011

Pro-Life Billboard: Saving (Those Baby-Dropping) Black Women From the Abortionist

I’d say the Gothamist article accompany this photo let the billboard off too easy.

The key to the advertisement is to get beyond the the language of cautious concern. And once you do, the otherwise arbitrary allusion to black women and pregnancy by the far right comes off as much like a racial ploy as anything else. Beyond the use of the word “dangerous” and “African American” in such close proximity, it’s hard to understand the combo of cultural concern and pro-life authorship without considering how the billboard – this one installed a half-mile from Planned Parenthood on Bleeker Street — activates the stereotype of the young black women as mindless baby-making machine.

It’s not just the text to watch out for here, though. This girl’s body language — with the direct gaze, the tight mouth and cheeks blown up just so, and the hands behind her back — makes her look, simultaneously, slightly-victimized, slightly-guilty and slightly-busted. Clever work! The haters have found a photo that elicits empathy at the same time it makes this black child look complicit, perhaps with the outside hint that, having escaped the abortionist, thank God, this lovely dear, in not too many years from now, will be ready to drop a few herself.

  • bill

    I assume this pro-life group believes life, and society’s moral obligation to protect it, begins at conception or soon after. Fine, I do too. But if so, their “leading cause of death” argument is just as valid for Whites, even if the abortion rate might indeed be higher among Blacks, for a variety of societal reasons.

    So what’s going on here? What I see here is an attempt to turn religious, conservative, family-values Blacks into single-issue voters. I note the billboard’s sponsor,, lists, at the top of their Board of Directors, a Stephen Broden, who Wikipedia identifies as a Republican political candidate. I think the Bag’s take on this might be a bit extreme.

    • Vvoter

      I’m not part of the (false) black voter demographic, so I can only speak to your point about single-issue black voters by way of what I’ve read – Cornel West, Ray Suarez, to name two. In the view of these two authors anyway, the prospect of using abortion to mobilize a black constituency is far less likely to work the way it did for religious whites. While social scientific research shows that as groups, both blacks tend to roughly line up with the “family values” platform, economic concerns make the concept of a single-issue black constituency meaningless.

      The story of abortion as a thought-out, planned, and deliberately exploited emotional issue used to mobilize religious voters remains one of the untold indictments of the GOP and religious right.

    • Vvoter

      …as groups, both blacks and latinos…

    • Susan Donovan

      This ad isn’t for black people. It’s for white people. Very few black people, even the most religious will feel positive about this. 

  • Enoch Root

    The ‘THATSABORTION.COM’ tag is placed over the girl’s belly, which is really what this ad is about. This is a very young girl who will, it’s insinuated, get pregnant before she’s out of school, and thus be tempted to terminate the pregnancy.

    I’d do more research by visiting that site, but I am so put off by this ad that I won’t. However, wikipedia tells me Broden, a pastor, ran for congress from TX 30, which is southeastern Dallas. He’s one of our Tea Party friends, who says things like this: “In October 2010 Broden was accused of saying that the current federal government was “tyrannical” and suggested violent overthrow could not be ruled out if there was not a “change in leadership” resulting from the November elections during an interview with a local Dallas Television Station.”

    Apparently if you say things like that, you get booked on the Glen Beck show, too, as one of the ‘Black-Robed Regiment.’

    So here’s your culture war, NYC. Thank the Koch brothers, because some random right-wing pastor from Dallas is never going to be able to afford that ad space.

    • bill

      thanks for bringing up the money angle, ER. I’d love to know where the funding for this group comes from. Sure, some from average church-goers who believe they’re supporting worthy moral causes, but how much from Koch Brother types who only see this as means to a political/financial end?

  • Reece

    As a black man that will soon father a black child, I’m offended. Wasn’t four hundred years of state sponsored control over the vaginas of black women enough for these assholes?

    • Vvoter

      I feel you brother Reece. You’d think they’d be over it by now. But they’re not, and they never will be. They’re insane about abortion. This ad was put together by a handful of people who are motivated to cause a stir. It’s an emotional issue, and to expect rational heads to prevail is something we can only hope and pray for.

  • Marsupialas

    Because who gives a shit what happens once the kid is born as long as it’s born! That’s their position. Didn’t Barney Frank say something like according to the pro-lifers, life begins at conception and ends at birth? We should stop calling them pro-lifers and call them pro-birthers because that’s what they really are.

    • bartcopfan

      We should…call them pro-birthers….

      FYI, that’s been a bitter joke in the pro-choice/reproductive justice community for years.

  • gmoke

    Wow, those black women start getting pregnant really young.

  • Laura

    Prepare to go behind the scenes to the most coveted underground and OVERPAID world of pompous super affiliates on the planet… banking up to 40 MILLION per month online.

    Then picture how much money you could be banking…

    if you knew exactly who these super affiliates are?

  • light feet

    killing children…..what is more extreme? You throw child molesters in prison for decades and have them register for their whole life even if they simply dowloaded 10 pics….and rightfully so, however to sit and allow child murderers to get paid to murder children on a daily basis and get paid for it and you call that “legal?” A prostitute will go to jail, a pot smoke, a thief, but not a child murderer….the death camps are all around you …what are you doing to stop them?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes