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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Disturbingly High Rates of Abortion Among African-American Women

Last year Black women had more abortions in New York City than any other ethnic group. Out of 87,273 pregnancies that were aborted last year in New York City, 40,798 were performed on African-American women.

In the borough where I live, The Bronx 60 percent of African-American women ended their pregnancies with an abortion.

In fact, over the past decade Black women have the highest abortion rates in the United States. And Black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than White women.

In the wake of these disturbing statistics I have to wonder: Do brothers and sistas know about their birth control options? Do they know how to use methods of birth control to prevent a pregnancy? Do they know about other ways to express affection towards each other during intimacy outside of sex? Do they know about their bodies? Do they have enough information to make the right choices before they have sex?

I’m going to have to say no.

Personally, I think the high percentage of abortion among black women is due to the historically negative perception of sex and sexuality in the African-American community. Stereotypes such as the Black Buck and the Jezebel and the radical Black Christian Church preaching vehemently against sexual expression have created a culturally negative perception of sex in the black community that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Even today discussing sex and sexual health issues in the African-American community is still considered taboo among many brothers and sisters.

As a result of this cultural conditioning, many brothers and sisters feel ashamed about discussing sex, sexual responsibility, and their options for birth control. And due to this shame, many brothers and sisters never get a proper sexual education so they can understand how their bodies function. This shame forces brothers and sisters pick up what they learn about sex from the streets. And on the streets is where brothers and sistas learn lies and misconceptions about sex.

For generations in the Black community rumors, innuendo and old wives tales have created a perception that Black women are sex objects, sex is something that just happens, and pregnancy is the result of fucking. Worse, it’s created the myth that the easiest way for a black woman to end her pregnancy is through an abortion. It’s a shame so many young brothers and sisters still don’t know about their options for birth control or ways to prevent a pregnancy from happening.

To combat the high abortion rates among African-American families, I feel the Black community needs to overcome its shame and have an open and honest discussion about sex, sexuality and sexual health. Brothers and Sistas today need to understand the easiest way to prevent a pregnancy is by getting educated about their bodies before they have sex and to get educated about the numerous birth control options they have to choose from when they’re ready to have sex.

I feel a sixty percent abortion rate among black women shows how decades of shame within the black community is leading to an abuse of the abortion process. Because so many brothers and sistas have no idea how their bodies function sexually, they have no idea how to make choices that will lead to them having a better quality of life overall.

I believe if brothers and sistas were better educated about sex and knew about all the options they had to prevent pregnancy there would be fewer abortions in the black community. When people are educated about sex and their bodies they make better choices regarding how they act sexually. Good sex starts with open and honest communication, and I feel the African-American community really needs to start having a dialogue about sex.

I want to be part of the process of helping brothers and sistas getting better educated about sex so they can make choices that lead to a better quality of life. Brothers and Sistas who are interested in learning more about their bodies and how they function they can go to a site like, and where they can get a better understanding of their bodies and how they work before making the choice to become sexually active with others.

Sex is a beautiful thing. I feel it’s how two people who love each other express their feelings for each other in a connection of mind, body and spirit. It’s part of the natural biological function in the reproductive process. Sex is nothing to be ashamed of; when people are educated about sex they have a better quality of life and more satisfying sexual relationships. I wish more brothers and sisters would overcome their shame and fear and have an open and honest dialogue about sex so they can make the right choices regarding sex in their lives.


  1. Shawn, this has to be the best article I've ever read on abortions in the Black community and you do us all a great service. This should be required reading in all schools, community centers and yes, churches.

    You deserve an award for excellence and service for this article.

  2. I felt I had to write something after reading about the 60 percent abortion rate for Black women. It's a shame so many sistas aren't in touch with their own sexuality. More of a shame how many Black women don't have an understanding about all the options they have to prevent a pregnancy before they choose to have an abortion.

    Award winning? Just writing about what I feel is important.