Family planning initiatives in the Deep South in the 1950s encouraged women of color (predominantly African American women) to use contraceptives and sterilizations to reduce the growth of our populations, while obstacles were simultaneously placed in the paths of white women seeking access to these same services. A Louisiana judge„ Leander Perez, was quoted as saying, “The best way to hate a nigger is to hate him before he is born.” This astonishingly frank outburst represented the sentiments of many racists during this period, although the more temperate ones disavowed gutter epithets.
For example, conservative politicians like Strom Thurmond supported family planning in the 1960s when it was used as a racialized form of population control, aimed at limiting Black voter strength in African American communities. When it was presented as a race-directed strategy to reduce their Black populations, North Carolina and South Carolina became the first states to include family planning in their state budgets in the 1950s. One center in Louisiana reported that in its first year of operation, 96% of its clients were Black. The proportion of white clients never rose about 15%. Generally speaking, family planning associated with women of color was most frequently supported; but support quickly evaporated when it was associated with white women.
Increased federal spending on contraception coincided with the urban unrest and rise in a militant Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. In 1969, President Nixon asked Congress to establish a five-year plan for providing family planning services to “all those who want them but cannot afford them.” However, the rational behind the proposed policy was to prevent population increases among Blacks—-this would make governance of the world in general, and inner cities in particular, difficult. Reflecting on concerns strikingly similar to those driving US population policies overseas, Nixon pointed to statistics that showed a “bulge” in the number of Black Americans between the ages of five and nine. This group of youngsters who would soon enter their teens—“an age group with problems that create social turbulence”—was 25% larger than ten years before. This scarcely disguised race- and class-based appeal for population control persuaded many Republicans to support family planning.
Loretta Ross, White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice, in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
A lot of progressives like to go around talking about the radicalization of the right around abortion issues. While it’s true that anti-choice extremism has become more mainstreamed, the repeated efforts to prove this fact specifically by pointing to how Republicans like Nixon and Bush Sr. promoted birth control use without noting WHY and TO WHAT EXTENT they were pro-contraception is extraordinarily racist and a violent erasure of the sterilization and population control policies used against women of color, as well as poor women and women with disabilities. It’s also yet another sign of what is so very fucked about so much of the pro-choice movement. (via thecurvature)
Join Trust Women Week.
From January 20 to 27, join the first-ever “Trust Women Week,” an online mass mobilization for women’s lives and rights. The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign is the coordinating partner in this unique collaborative campaign, working with MoveOn.org and more than 50 organizations nationwide, to let legislators know that reproductive health, reproductive justice and reproductive rights are at the top of our agenda, and should be at the top of theirs.
In this collaborative national action, your messages as “virtual marchers” will be packaged and delivered directly to members of Congress, governors and state legislators to underscore that Americans trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.
Online participants may select up to six tailored messages:
1. “I trust women and I vote;”
2. “Reproductive rights are human rights;”
3. “Keep abortion safe and legal, and make it affordable and accessible;”
4. “Stand up and be counted for reproductive justice;”
5. “We are the 99%. Fix the economy, and stop the attacks on women’s health;”
6. “Contraception Is Prevention.”
Join in this virtual freedom march, and you’ll see your participation on a real-time online map. Your participation is essential to this effort, so thanks for your support!
Click here to join the March!
Trust Women Week overlaps the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and reasserts our firm commitment to reclaiming the future of reproductive decision-making in 2012.
Thanks again for your support.