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White Supremacy and The Forced-Birth Movement
Why today's Supreme Court ruling on Roe V. Wade is based in white supremacy.
It’s a somber morning in the coffee shop where I write this in. The song Billie Jean by Michael Jackson blares through the speakers. I find it eerily fitting. Roe V Wade is officially overturned. Giving birth will become even more dangerous, particularly for Black, Indigenous and Hispanic people. Of course, that’s the point, isn’t it? Let me explain.
The Birth Dearth
The forced birth movement is based in white supremacy. The overturning of Roe V Wade is part of a more significant effort to prevent the browning of this country while increasing the white American birth rate. If reading this makes you recoil, I ask that you stick with me for a bit while I lay out the facts.
In the 1980s, Ben Wattenberg, a presidential advisor, wrote a book called the Birth Derth. In it, he warns that the decline in the birth rate for white Americans is this country’s greatest threat and outlines how to address it. At the time, 60% of all abortions were from white birth givers. Wattenberg argued that if you can reduce that figure, you can reverse the decline in the white population without inadvertently increasing the Black and brown populations. The Birth Derth wasn’t considered radical to those in power. Wattenberg wasn’t a fridge figure to be disregarded. The man had the ear of every American President, from Lyndon B. Johnson to Bill Clinton.
“He (Wattenberg) says if we don’t change this (white birth rate) and change it rapidly, people will lose their numerical majority in this country, and this will no longer be a white man’s land. Now I’m not misrepresenting this; I’m telling you exactly what he says. He says there are three things we can do to solve this. Number one, we can pay women to have babies as they have been doing in Western European nations for years. Then he says, and these are his words, ‘unfortunately, we would have to pay women of all colors to have babies so we don’t want to do that.’ He says the second thing we can do is increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into this country every year. Then once again he says, ‘unfortunately, the vast majority of people wanting to come into this country are people of color, so we don’t want to do that.’”
The third solution was to reduce the number of abortions for white women and birth givers. It was around the 1980s that Evangelical Christians then did a 180 on their stance on abortion and mobilized against Roe V. Wade, making abortion a sin in the eyes of God. Prior to the 80s, most Evangelical Christians were indifferent to abortion, believing it was primarily a Catholic issue.
Forced birth for white people, forced sterilization for Black, brown, and people of color
Modern liberals like to show off a graph of declining abortion rates since the 80s as an argument for abortion rights. The thinking here is, “hey, abortions are on the decline. Why make it illegal?” But, as with everything in this country, Black and brown birth givers are the outlier. The significant decrease in abortions is from predominantly white women. This was just as strategic as it was accidental.
Today, white abortions account for roughly 33% of the total, half of what it was in the 1980s. While these CDC figures are incomplete, omitting 19 states from the calculation, the trend for white abortion rates points down, and the rates for BIPOC birth givers are flat. Better access to birth control and healthcare has contributed to the declining abortion rates for white Americans (It also exposes the inequality for BIPOC birth givers.) But that is only part of the story. The decline in abortion for white Americans is also due to a strategic effort by evangelical politicians to reduce the number of abortion clinics and birth control access in poor, predominantly white states. The midwest has the least amount of abortion clinics in the country due to laws that make it difficult to open and maintain one in those states.
It is also surprisingly difficult to get one’s tubes tied. Many predominantly white states require a waiting period and permission from their husband. And that’s if you can get an appointment at all. Conversely, brown immigrant birth givers are still undergoing forced sterilizations sanctioned by the US government— repeating a dark history of mass sterilizations for BIPOC. Between 1930 and 1970, for example, Puerto Rican women underwent forced sterilizations sanctioned by the US Government as a means to control the population. By the 1980s, one-third of all Puerto Rican women were sterilized.
The forced birth movement, as a means to keep white Americans as the majority, is only part of a larger strategy. In his concurring opinion released after Roe V Wade was overturned this morning, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the court should reconsider the rulings that protect contraception and same-sex marriage. We also have Senators openly challenging rulings that made interracial marriage legal. What do those things have in common?
All this said before we begin to speak about official US policy regarding brown immigrants— the children locked in cages and broadcasted on primetime news, the wall at our southern border, the arresting of Hispanic women for miscarriages, mass incarcerations for Black and Hispanic men, and on and on. Look at the thousands of indigenous women gone missing or murdered each year with little to no news coverage about it because our government underreports the figures.
Conversely, look at shows like 19 Kids and Counting, which attempted to glamorize white evangelicals birthing as many kids as possible. Or how we have a Supreme Court Justice, Amy Barrett, who is a member of a literal all-white Christian baby-making cult called The People of Praise.
Now, if you’ve made it this far, you’re undoubtedly asking what everyone asks when this issue is brought to light — if abortion is illegal for everyone, wouldn’t that increase the population for BIPOC too? To that, I say— not if they all move to blue states out of fear.
But perhaps the better question is — if they’re willing to take rights away from white people to increase the majority-race population, what do you think they are willing to do to Black, Brown, and Indigenous people?