Billboard raises questions about attitudes toward abortion in the black community

April 4, 2011

Produced by Eight Forty-Eight

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(Getty/Scott Olson)
A pro-life billboard featuring an image of President Obama was recently vandalized in Englewood.

Recently, the anti-abortion group Life Always launched a controversial Chicago ad campaign featuring an image of President Barack Obama’s face and the tag line "Every 21 minutes our next possible leader is aborted." The group says the billboards are meant to "encourage reflection on the disproportionate number of abortions among African Americans."

The billboards sparked futher controversy over the weekend when abortion rights activists placed banners over the billboard with the messages "In 21 minutes this sign should be gone" and "Abort Racism." But the controversy has opened up questions about pregnancy and contraceptive use in the African American community.

A recent University of Chicago Study found that 70 percent of African American pregnancies are unplanned or unintended. That's according to Dr. Melissa Gilliam, who heads the family planning division at the University of Chicago.  Dr. Gilliam spoke to Alison Cuddy on WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight on Monday.

However, the same study also shows that "African Americans are better or more likely to use 2 methods of contraception", said Dr. Gilliam. Gilliam notes there have been greater efforts to include more women of color in conversations about reproductive health, but that there is a need for voices that are most affected by these issues to be heard.