Jaylen Cavil, a representative of Des Moines Black Lives Matter, testified against the Life Amendment on Monday during an Iowa Senate subcommittee. Cavil opened up by apologizing for every male who spoke against the bill since they would never be pregnant.
But I found it interesting that Matthew Bruce didn’t offer any testimony on the subject as he did during the death penalty subcommittee.
Then I remembered, Bruce knows the history of abortion and Planned Parenthood. He knows it well enough to have written a lengthy blog post about it on May 17, 2019 called “The Revived Assault on Abortion Further Exposes White Supremacy’s Tug of War Over Black Bodies.”
It is actually an interesting piece.
Bruce wrote about growing up in the Drake area and looking out the window to only see a few restaurants, a barbershop, a police station and a Planned Parenthood office.
“It was clear to me by then that this Planned Parenthood, the only local resource for soon-to-be mothers (and fathers), was symbolic of a larger phenomenon at play,” he wrote. “In a historically red state, PP and the Black, poor and disabled women who overwhelmingly find themselves gracing its halls are contentious points of political bartering over the issue of abortion; an issue which has silently become a discussion about minoritized classes in America.
“Ironically, it is the voices and experiences of Black women and other disadvantaged groups which are largely absent from this debate, leaving them in a ‘damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t’ political hotbox which ultimately serves to entrap them in a slow-burning holocaust.”
Here is where Bruce really hits it on the head…
“The abortion debate would be a much simpler conversation for radical Black voices if the proliferation of such institutions as PP weren’t mired in a racist and classist history,” he wrote.
Bruce then writes about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger:
“And then there is the well-hidden and sanitized eugenic legacy of Margaret Sanger, the proclaimed hero of women’s reproductive rights; the founder and primary crusader for the corporation now known as Planned Parenthood,” he wrote. “One of the great American crimes against humanity is the revision of racist and classist histories for the sole purpose of making it more comfortable for us to live with the results: and no other single legacy epitomizes this practice than the legacy of Margaret Sanger and the role she played in progressive genocidal beliefs and practices.”
Sanger was a “proud and vociferous advocate” for eugenics, which Bruce defined as a “philosophical and political movement sponsored by elite whites which focuses on eradicating unwanted populations such as Blacks, the poor and the disabled.”
Bruce linked to Sanger’s 1919 article called “Birth Control and Racial Betterment. He mentions a 1950 letter in which she advocates “a simple, cheap, safe contraceptive to be used in poverty-stricken slums, jungles and among the most ignorant people.”
Bruce really got into Sanger’s history and provided some fascinating detail. Honestly, I give him credit as I learned some things.
And he highlights a heartbreaking fact:
“As recent as 2012 in New York City more Black children were aborted (31,328) than born (24,758),” he wrote.
Bruce went on to criticize “so-called ‘pro-life’ Republicans,” which is where I would begin to differ on the piece. I’m not sure why he believes prohibitions on women’s reproductive rights are attempts to punish Black and other vulnerable communities.
But he realizes that Black women are nearly three times as liketly to attempt abortion a pregnancy than white women.
As I have said, while I do not completely agree with Bruce’s perspective on how white Republicans have led to these increased abortion rates for Black women, I genuinely find his knowledge on Sanger and Planned Parenthood refreshing.
I would like to see something from Bruce in the future that really details how he thinks white pro-life Republicans have made things worse and what we could do to make this increased abortion rate in the Black community come down — way down — ideally to zero.
But nonetheless, his words about Sanger and Planned Parenthood are true and they are heartbreaking.