The black community of Louisiana is a diverse population, united by a shared history of struggle, and greatly impacted by strong spiritual values and family traditions. Poverty, violence, and racism are persistent issues our state, and black community stakeholders are working on many fronts to overcome these challenges. There is, however, a major challenge facing the black population that receives little attention – an issue with life or death consequences. The rate of abortion among black women in the state of Louisiana is higher than that for any other group of women.
THE NUMBERS AND THE IMPACT
The culture of life in Louisiana reflects social values that uphold the dignity of every human person and the sanctity of human life.
The culture of life is in danger, however, in the Black community. Recent studies show that 9,976 abortions were performed among all women in Louisiana in 2013, and 5,999 of those abortions, or 60%, were obtained by Black women.
Black mothers gave birth, during this same period of time, to 23,617 live babies. The 5,999 babies killed by abortion represent 1 death for every 4 live babies. In other words, every 5th black baby in the state of Lousiana is killed before it can take a breath. This is an alarming trend that threatens the long-term survival of the Black population in the state of Louisiana.
Unmarried Black women have more than twice the number of abortions as their White counterparts.
According to parish (county) data, 6,089, or approximately 61% of abortions in Louisiana, are among women between the ages of 20-29. This supports federal data that shows a 58% abortion rate among this same age group. In this 20-29 age group, 3,758, or 59% of the abortions, are obtained by Black women. Of all abortions in Louisiana, 8,885, or 89% are at a gestational age of 12 weeks or less. Black women represent 5,253, or 59% of that total.
The reasons surveyed to determine why an individual had an abortion were physical health, mental health, risk of fetal deformity, and rape or incest. Although mental or physical health was a response for many in the 20-29 year age group, the largest number of responses by far, for every age group was “other”. This suggests that it may be necessary to supplement the current statistical studies with qualitative data in order to accurately assess the issues that impact a decision in favor of abortion. Properly assessing influences on the decision to have or not have an abortion is critical in achieving long-term success in reducing, and finally, eliminating abortion in the Black community.
The rate of abortion in the Black community is higher than for any other racial group. It is extremely high among unmarried women, and highest among women 20-29 years of age. These realities exist in spite of a robust, and nationally-recognized prolife movement in the state of Louisiana. The implications for the prolife movement in the Black community are that outreach and education initiatives should be designed within the Black community to incorporate the unique perspective of various stakeholder groups, and cultural influences that impact attitudes and behavior related to sexuality and life decision making.
Education initiatives and strategies to save Black babies cannot succeed without the participation of educators, pastors, youth leaders, and others who have unique knowledge about their communities and the factors that influence young people.