As part of Tucker Carlson’s attempts to delegitimize protests against police brutality following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans at the hands of the police, the Fox News host has been invoking the myth that Democrats and reproductive rights advocates ignore the real problem of “Black genocide” through abortion. This false and racist claim is also being pushed by other right-wing media figures and abortion opponents.
The “Black genocide” myth claims that abortion clinics and abortion rights advocates “target” Black populations for abortion, including by locating clinics in majority-Black neighborhoods -- an allegation that is without merit. Reproductive rights advocates have consistently called out this falsehood as a tool to perpetuate abortion stigma. Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder and executive director of Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, told ThinkProgress that the anti-abortion movement seldom “frames white women — who have the most abortions in the country — as having committed genocide” and instead uses this tactic to shame and stigmatize Black women. As ThinkProgress wrote, abortion opponents and right-wing media “tether abortion and racism because of the real history of medical racism, specifically in reproductive health like the coerced sterilization of people of color throughout the 20th century.”
Abortion opponents often rely on the words of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, to claim the abortion rights movement is racist and perpetuates eugenics. As Rewire.News’ Imani Gandy wrote in 2015, “Sanger opposed abortion,” however:
It is true that Sanger was a proponent of eugenics, and pro-choice advocates do themselves no favors by attempting to whitewash this fact and paint Sanger as some infallible feminist hero. Sanger was passionate about contraception—perhaps to a fault—and her fervor about promoting her birth control agenda led her to align herself with eugenicists, along with racists and an assortment of people of questionable character.
But it is simply untrue that Margaret Sanger wanted to exterminate the Black race. This is a flat-out lie. Yet it is one that is repeated ad nauseum, both by anti-choice activists and the politicians who support them, most recently Ben Carson.
In propagating this lie, anti-choicers infantilize Black women and strip them of their agency: They portray Margaret Sanger’s birth control agenda as something that was done to Black women, rather than something in which Black women and much of the Black community as a whole enthusiastically participated.
Right-wing media completely ignore this context and have frequently pushed the “Black genocide” myth and falsehoods about Sanger in the past. Now, in the wake of police brutality protests across the country, Fox’s Carlson has used this myth to criticize the protesters' cause and attack their motivations on three separate occasions. (Carlson, who has a long history of promoting white supremacist content, has also exploited the recent protests to spew other racist rhetoric, which has caused a number of companies to pull advertising from his program.)
Carlson claimed on his June 8 show that “if Democratic leaders cared about saving the lives of Black people, … they wouldn’t put abortion clinics in Black neighborhoods.”
Carlson had made a similar claim earlier on his June 2 show that “if you really cared about Black lives, you probably wouldn’t put abortion clinics in Black neighborhoods -- but they do.”
Again on June 9, Carlson dismissed the threat of “bad police” and instead invoked abortion as one of “the real problems” for Black Americans: “Instead of encouraging healthy, intact families, the left ignores the question or actively abets the destruction of families and instead promotes abortion, like that's an answer. In New York City right now, more African -American babies are aborted every year than born -- this encouraged by the people they tell you they love Black people.”
Other right-wing media figures and abortion opponents have similarly used this myth to attack the protests against police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, some have attacked Planned Parenthood specifically -- one of right-wing media’s favorite targets. They’ve asserted that calls to “defund the police” should really focus on defunding Planned Parenthood instead, invoking the “Black genocide” myth and falsehoods about Sanger’s continued influence.
- Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wrote a piece for The Washington Times in response to the latest protests demanding police defunding, writing, “If anything should be defunded, it is Planned Parenthood”:
Black lives do matter. We should be working to reform the criminal justice system to ensure equal protection under the law. But we should not do that by defunding the police. African-American citizens have a right to feel safe in their homes and communities. Reforming law enforcement agencies across the country will ensure that every citizen is treated fairly and that every citizen is safe.
And safety begins with the unborn. We cannot live in a society where there is such a clear bias toward aborting black babies. Black lives matter.
- Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA:
- Lila Rose, anti-abortion group Live Action’s founder and president, tweeted at Planned Parenthood after the organization expressed support for the protests:
- In an apparent nod to the importance of abortion to President Donald Trump’s reelection, New York magazine wrote up that “Trump’s reelection campaign saw an opportunity to disrespect (while appropriating)” the language of the Black Lives Matter movement “by selling a limited-edition $18 onesie emblazoned with ‘Baby Lives Matter.’”
- Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins similarly attacked Planned Parenthood’s acting President Alexis McGill Johnson on Twitter:
- On One America News’ The Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler, host Liz Wheeler attacked the Black Lives Matter movement and invoked the falsehoods about clinics in Black neighborhoods and the “targeting” of Black communities. Wheeler asked, “These black babies, do their lives matter? Not to the hypocritical Black Lives Matter movement.”
- The Daily Caller’s Mary Margaret Olohan:
- Blaze Media’s Chris Pandolfo:
- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote, “It’s okay to protest a black man’s death. It is not okay, it turns out, to protest millions of them.” Perkins later questioned, “Where are the mobs screaming that Black Lives Matter outside of [New York City]’s abortion clinics, where more African-American babies are aborted than born?”
- Washington Examiner contributor Kimberly Ross:
- American Life League:
- The Advocate’s contributing columnist Dan Fagan wrote for the Louisiana newspaper, “It is incumbent upon all of us to speak out and take a stand against injustices inflicting African Americans. Whether it be racism, police brutality, or the targeting of black babies for abortion.” Fagan’s article was titled:
- Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger, who was previously convicted for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic:
- PragerU ran a Facebook ad using a clip from Candace Owens’ show with the following caption: