In New York City, thousands more black babies are aborted each year than born alive.
As Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination tees up another national debate about reproductive rights, is it too much to ask that abortion’s impact on the black population be part of the discussion?
When the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, polling showed that blacks were less likely than whites to support abortion. Sixties-era civil rights activists like Fannie Lou Hamer and Whitney Young had denounced the procedure as a form of genocide. Jesse Jackson called abortion “murder” and once told a black newspaper in Chicago that “we used to look for death from the man in the blue coat and now it comes in a white coat.”
In the intervening decades, those views shifted. Mr. Jackson abandoned the pro-life ship to run for president in 1984, and leaders of black civil-rights organizations today are joined at the hip with abortion-rights proponents such as Planned Parenthood. A Pew Research Center survey taken last year found that 50% of Hispanics, 58% of whites and 62% of blacks now say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Social scientists aren’t sure why black attitudes toward abortion have changed. One theory is that as more blacks migrated out of the conservative Deep South and settled in other regions of the country with more liberal views on reproductive rights, their attitudes changed accordingly. Another possibility is that people with higher incomes and more education tend to be pro-choice, and since the early 1970s the socioeconomic status of blacks has increased dramatically.