This week is the Archdiocese of Washington is participating in the Summer of Mercy 2.0 initiative. It could not be a more perfect response to decisions being made by the Health and Human Services Department. This posting has been written by Sr. Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB Communications Office and really gets at the heart of the matter.
Health and Human Services must think Catholics and other religious groups are fools.
That’s all you can think when you read HHS’s recent announcement that it may exempt the church from having to pay for contraceptive services, counseling to use them and sterilizations under the new health reform in certain circumstances. As planned now, HHS would limit the right of the church not to pay for such services in limited instances, such as when the employees involved are teaching religion and in cases where the people served are primarily Catholic.
HHS’s reg conveniently ignores the underlying principle of Catholic charitable actions: we help people because we are Catholic, not because our clients are. There’s no need to show your baptismal certificate in the hospital emergency room, the parish food pantry, or the diocesan drug rehab program. Or any place else the church offers help, either.
With its new regulation, HHS seeks to force church institutions to buy contraceptives, including drugs that can disrupt an existing pregnancy, through insurance they offer their own employees. This is part of HHS’s anticipated list of preventive services for women that private insurance programs must provide under the new health reform law.
The exemption is limited, to say the least. The pastor in the Catholic parish doesn’t have to buy the Pill for his employees, but the religious order that runs a Catholic hospital has to foot the bill for surgical sterilizations. And diocesan Catholic Charities agencies have to use money that would be better spent on feeding the poor to underwrite services that violate church teachings.
Whatever you think of artificial birth control, HHS’s command that everyone, including churches, must pay for it exalts ideology over conscience and common sense.
Perhaps HHS is unduly influenced by lobbyists. No surprise there. Certainly a major lobbyist is Planned Parenthood, the nation’s chief proponent of contraceptive services. Contraceptive services make a lot of money for Planned Parenthood clinics, which (again no surprise) provide the “services” HHS has mandated.
HHS and Planned Parenthood are narrow in focus. Respect for religious rights isn’t likely a key concern for them. However, it ought to be a key concern for President Obama, who last year promised to respect religious rights as he garnered support from the church community to pass the health care reform act. To assuage concerns, President Obama went so far as to issue an executive order promising that the health care reform act would not fund abortion or force people and institutions to violate their consciences. HHS is on its way to violating that promise. For the sake of basic integrity – the President’s keeping his word and for the protection of the right to religious freedom – President Obama needs to speak up now.
June is Abortion Awareness Month in the African American Community. It is a tragic and curious fact that just over 30% of the abortions in this country are performed on African American women. But the African American community is only 12% of the US population. This means of course that the Black population is strongly over-represented in terms of abortion deaths. Hence the need for an abortion awareness month in the Black Community. Recent statistics from the Guttmacher institute indicate that 1784 Black children are killed by abortion every day in the USA.
Why are African American children five times more likely to die by abortion than white children? Like all sociological phenomena, one simple explanation is not enough. Surely the breakdown of the Black family structure is a factor. High poverty rates must also be influential. Others explain that women in poverty often have less access to contraceptives and other “health-care” that might help prevent “unwanted” pregnancies. But others also note that the Black community was historically targeted by Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Currently 78% of Planned parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods. I would like to take a brief look at this historical phenomenon.
Margaret Sanger’s “Negro Project” – I do not propose to give a complete description of the origins of Planned Parenthood. You can read a more through description of that history here: Margaret Sanger and the “Negro Project” and here: The Pivot of Civilization . But fundamentally Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger was a believer in Eugenics. This was a theory that held that certain races of the human family were inherently inferior and that they should be eliminated from the gene pool through the use of contraceptives, sterilization and even abortion. Doing this would help “purify” the human race of undesirable traits (negative eugenics).
Where were these undesirable traits found in the human gene pool that Eugenicists sought to minimize or remove? You guessed it, darker skinned peoples such as African Americans, Gypsies, and various indigenous peoples had these “undesirable” traits, tended to live in poverty and were targeted for reduction and elimination by the eugenics movement. The movement became quite widespread by the 1930s and influenced Adolf Hitler in his genocidal programs.
Here in America a chief proponent of eugenics was Margaret Sanger. In 1922 Sanger wrote against outreach to the poor since it caused them merely to become more numerous:
The most serious charge that can be brought against modern “benevolence” is that it encourages the perpetuation of defectives, delinquents and dependents. These are the most dangerous elements in the world community, the most devastating curse on human progress and expression (from page 108 of her book The Pivot of Civilization).
In 1926 she began to propose sterilization for those who were “unfit”:
It now remains for the U.S. government to set a sensible example to the world by offering a bonus or yearly pension to all obviously unfit parents who allow themselves to be sterilized by harmless and scientific means. In this way the moron and the diseased would have no posterity to inherit their unhappy condition. The number of the feeble-minded would decrease and a heavy burden would be lifted from the shoulders of the fit (in the Birth Control Review Oct. 1926).
The Eugenics movement used the word “moron” to describe those caught in the cycle of poverty and attributed their inability to escape that cycle as evidence of their inferior genes and poorer mental capacity. By 1929 she chose to target African Americans especially for her “benevolent” outreach establishing her first clinic in Harlem. By 1939 she began her “Negro Project” establishing clinics and locating them especially in poorer neighborhoods to “encourage” Blacks and other poor people to reproduce less. The distribution of contraceptives was her primary strategy. She saw Black ministers as “useful” in her campaign and rather infamously wrote to her Regional Director Dr. Clarence Gamble:
The minister’s work is also important and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members (Letter to Gamble, Dec 10, 1939).
After World War II the Eugenics movement was discredited so Margaret Sanger adjusted her rhetoric and spoke of trying to “help the poor” and of “promoting better health” but the method, the plan and the targeted groups remained the same. Today it is instructive to note that the usual location of Planned Parenthood Clinics remains largely poor Black and Latino neighborhoods. After 1973 Planned Parenthood added to its arsenal by becoming the largest provider of abortions in this country.
Was Sanger successful? Well, as noted, African Americans are 12% of the American Population. But just over 30% of abortions are performed on Black women. Some conclude to moral problems in the Black Community. Others conclude that the Black Community has been targeted. You decide. Today as noted, 78% of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in minority neighborhoods.
In an interesting twist of fate, Whites and Northern Europeans (races that Sanger and the Eugenics movement would have considered most “fit”) bought into contraception in a big way after 1965 and now themselves face a kind of demographic implosion. Meanwhile many “Third World” races and nations (considered by Sanger and the Eugenics movement as “inferior”) are now set to demographically dominate the world. I have written of the demographic implosion of Europe here: Contraception is Suicide
As stated above, the high rate of abortion in the Black Community is likely complicated and surely cannot be reduced to one thing. But the targeting of the Black Community cannot be dismissed as a factor. The quotes from the distant past might be dismissed by some. But the current location of most Abortion “Clinics” in Black and Latino neighborhoods cannot be so easily dismissed.
The trailer is below and features a series of quotes from proponents of Eugenics (Sanger among them) in the early half of the 20th Century. Make sure you have a strong stomach before you watch since the quotes are ugly and horrible examples of racism that has thankfully and hopefully has abated to a large degree.
Here is another video that effectively addresses abortion using a hip hop format: