Black Americans Are Deeply Ambivalent About Abortion | Opinion

It was the evening of March 31, 2014. I was 28 years old and preparing to move to Atlanta, Ga. from Newport News, Va. for a ministry assignment. As I was finalizing everything for the move, my father asked me to come downstairs. There was something he and my mother wanted to share with me.

Expecting to receive a flurry of goodbye wishes, I hurried downstairs, but what he revealed to me was something else entirely, something that would drastically alter the direction of my life: I was adopted.

My parents handed me a notebook full of contacts to biological brothers and sisters that I had no idea existed. They told me that my birthmother was confined to a nursing home and that doctors wasn't sure how much longer she was going to live, and that my biological father was someone who I had been told previously was my uncle.

As you can imagine, a lot of emotions accompanied the revelation. But in addition to navigating the personal feelings, a larger thought began to percolate in my mind. The more I found out, the more grateful I became for life.

My birthmother had five children, all of who had different fathers. When my birthmother conceived me in 1985, she was involved with prostitution and in and out of jail, and simply not living a life conducive to raising a child.

What really gives me a chill is that I know she could've easily chosen the alternative. As an African American woman, the options that were provided to her could have prevented my presence on Earth.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an Abortion Surveillance Report. According to that report, Black women make up 14 percent of the childbearing population, and yet 36 percent of all abortions were obtained by Black women. At a ratio of 474 abortions per 1,000 live births, Black women have the highest ratio of any group in the country.

These statistics and the prevalence of voting for Democrats in the Black community gives the misconception that Black Americans are pro-choice. But the truth is, our community is very pro-life. Just 46 percent of Black Americans believe abortion is morally acceptable, and just 32 percent believe it should be legal in all circumstances.

The views of the politicians who claim to speak on our behalf simply don't reflect the deep ambivalence in the Black community toward abortion.

It's an ambivalence my birth mother had to overcome. And overcome she did. Despite the fact the odds were not in her favor, my birthmother chose life. She chose to put someone else's needs above her own. She chose to look beyond her circumstances and trials and give me a chance at life, even if everything in her surroundings said otherwise.

March for life Black Americans
Anti-abortion activists participate in the "March for Life," an annual event to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US, outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 29, 2021. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

And I am so deeply grateful to her for it. She then turned her life around, got clean and lived a healthy life up until her death in February 2015. I got to meet her. And when I did, I learned that she wasn't just pro-life for the sake of her children, but also for herself. She was very involved in her community, helping at-risk youth and providing them with better options and offering solutions.

She understood that it takes a village to help people choose live. So did my adoptive parents, Robert and Marcella Minor, natives from Dayton, Ohio. While they were unable to have children naturally, they chose to love and care for someone who was not their own.

Every year in January, when I see thousands of pro-life activists marching in D.C. in the March for Life and calling for the upholding of the sanctify of life, I see myself. Being pro-life isn't political for me; it's personal.

And there are many others in my community like me. Alveda King, a prominent Black conservative and the niece of the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a big advocate for the unborn. So is Horace Cooper, Co-Chairman of Project 21, a network of Black conservative leadership. So is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, an avowed critic of Roe v. Wade.

But it's about more than trying to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, even though I would support that gesture. It's about more than just getting a politician to sign a pledge. It's about more than just a march. This is about preserving and promoting life. The right to breathe the air and a chance to fulfill the purpose that my Creator has given me.

Black Americans are an ideologically diverse demographic whose views are all too often flattened into a single ideology. Don't let the narrative fool you. Many are like me, my birth mother, my adoptive parents, and the communities we've made our homes. Many of us choose life.

Demetrius Minor is a preacher, advocate, relationship builder, and a writer. He has been the director of coalitions in Florida for Americans for Prosperity, where he worked in partnership with the NAACP.

The views in this article are the writer's own.