The Misguided Missionary Movement to Save Black Babies

Colorlines' Akiba Solomon profiles a pro-life effort that she says is fueled mostly by suburban white evangelicals and conservative black men.

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Colorlines' Akiba Solomon profiles a pro-life effort that she says is fueled mostly by suburban white evangelicals and conservative black men.

In some ways, Care Net's Kansas City operation is neither unique nor new. For nearly 20 years, the evangelical anti-abortion movement has used standalone crisis pregnancy centers to dissuade girls and women from ending unintended pregnancies. These mostly volunteer-staffed centers posit themselves as neutral, nonjudgmental sources of information about abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, adoption and abstinence. As Americans United for Life's Jeanneane Maxon told the New York Times in January, "They're really the darlings of the pro-life movement" due to their "ground level, one-on-one, reaching-the-woman-where-she's-at approach." ...

The new Rachel House, however, is on 46th St. and Paseo, in the heart of the city. It sits across the street from J's Pawn & Fine Jewelry, where patrons can cash checks and get payday loans. This area is mostly black, up to 36 percent of its residents are poor and it has one of the highest infant mortality rates in town.

"A couple of years ago we revisited our mission statement," says Rachel House president Kathy Edwards, a middle-aged, married mother who eerily resembles "Big Love" star Mary Kay Place. "When you're passionate about doing something, you want to do it well. We asked ourselves if we were where women were more apt to get abortions, because there's not a pregnancy center for them to go to. And we thought, 'No. We're not in the urban core.'"

Evangelicals have long approached their anti-abortion work with missionary zeal. But over the past four years, national anti-abortion strategists have designated "urban" and "underserved" women and babies as a priority for saving. In practice, these terms tend to be euphemisms for "black" and, to a lesser extent, "Latina."

Read Akiba Solomon's entire piece at Colorlines.  

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