Colorado Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is getting in trouble for spouting off about black women and abortion without actually researching the issue.
On Colorado Public Radio on Monday morning (audio here), he said, “in some of our ethnic communities we’re seeing very, very high percentages of babies, children, pregnancies end in abortion… I’ve seen numbers as high as 70 percent, maybe even more, in the African-American community that I think is just appalling.”
Beauprez obviously hadn’t “seen numbers.” According to the CDC, the abortion ratio for black women is 495 per 1,000 live births, or 33%. The Guttmacher Institute elaborates:
Black women are more than twice as likely as women overall to have an abortion, and Hispanic and Asian women have abortion rates slightly higher than average: Five percent of black women have an abortion each year, compared with 3% of Hispanic women, 3% of Asian women and 1% of white women.
It is not surprising that unmarried, black and poor women are among those most likely to have an abortion. Although the nationâ€™s overall abortion rate has fallen in recent years, these women have effectively been left behind.[...] The high abortion rate reflects both the high rate of unintended pregnancy and the fact that black women are less likely than other racial and ethnic groups to carry their unintended pregnancies to term. Often, these factors are driven by socioeconomic circumstances: For example, black women of reproductive age are more likely than other women to be poor and less likely to be married, characteristics associated with higher unintended pregnancy rates.
Even though he got the numbers wrong, I agree with Beauprez that unintended pregnancies among women of color is an issue that needs to be addressed. What he refuses to acknowledge is that increased access to reproductive health care and family planning services can significantly reduce abortion rates– and women are having a hard time accessing contraception these days. (The percent of black women who reported not using contraceptives increased from 10% to 15% between 1995 and 2002.)
Yet Beauprez opposes contraception. He voted pro-choice approximately 0% of the time he served in Congress. (His Democratic opponent for governor, Bill Ritter, also opposes abortion rights but is in favor of EC. Isn’t it sad when that almost seems progressive?)
It’s so infuriating that lawmakers like Beauprez can lament the abortion rate for women of color, then fail to acknowledge that their lack of support for family planning disproportionately affects these women. I wasn’t surprised to read that, a few weeks ago, Beauprez said, “I am fairly black and white (on opposing abortion) and I think that people need to know that.”