Why Is the Black Abortion Rate So High?
It's puzzling when poll results show that blacks tend to view abortion through a conservative lens. A Wisconsin ad campaign likening the black abortion rate to genocide throws the contradiction into stark relief.
We asked Dr. Carl C. Bell, a clinical professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Illinois, to weigh in on the apparent contradiction between behavior and opinion. It isn't difficult to reconcile the conflict between the high rate of abortions among African Americans and polls that show most blacks do not support pregnancy terminations, he replied.
Bell, like the CDC, blames the disconnect on unintended pregnancies. Yet the poll results include the responses of everyone -- male and female, young and old, those in the phase of life when people get abortions and those who are at the stage of life when people reflect back on the choices they made.
Women in their 20s account for more than half of all abortions: Those who are ages 20 to 24 obtain 33 percent of all abortions, and those who are 25 to 29 years old obtain 24 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
"When you are under 26 or in your 20s, your brain is dominated by emotional directives," says Bell, who treats youths and has been in practice for more than 40 years. "At that age, you're all gasoline with no breaks or steering wheel, so your hormones are in control."
However, not only are the pollsters talking to 20-somethings; they are also talking to older churchgoing, middle-class conservatives, some of whom likely had abortions or supported their partners' abortions as youths and are against them today because of the moral backlash. For these older people, there are also physical and psychological repercussions, including the hurt and anguish of having aborted a child.
"They aren't polling 20-year-olds in the hood," Bell surmises. "I'd like to see that happen. And some of these saved, black churchgoing people can be even more tyrannical than members of the Tea Party. What were they saved from? I would venture to guess from the very same behavior they so ardently oppose today. That's why you see the conflict in the poll numbers. People always say one thing and do another. And when they get to a certain age, they expect people to do as they say."
Some black pro-lifers, such as Bomberger, believe that the conflict has a more nefarious cause. "I've done research that could not be explained by socioeconomic factors," he says.