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Is abortion a race issue?

Alveda-KingAbortion has always been much more of a vexed political issue in America, but when considering the figures for terminations in Britain, you have to wonder why the subject is so low-key over here

This week the political issue got racial in the States when the niece of Dr Martin Luther King called on President Obama to investigate whether abortion clinics are going out of their way to encourage black women to get rid of their unborn.

The Bulletin reports that Dr Alveda King (above) claimed abortions were “wiping out one-quarter of the African-American population”, as figures revealed that 37 percent of all terminations were black compared to an African-American population of 14%.

fetus1But that disparity is not nearly as high as in Britain, where Department of Health statistics from last year show that 11% of abortions were carried out on Black British or Mixed (Caribbean and African) women. This contrasts with a Black British population of 3.4%, according to the 2001 Census.

So that means that while African-Americans were over two and a half times more likely to have an abortion than their white counterparts, Black British people were almost three and a half times more likely to undergo the procedure.

This is a surprising state of affairs given the prevalence of religion, which takes such a strong anti-abortion stance, in the lives of so many in the Black community. Even if you take religion out of the equation, abortion tends to be frowned upon at the best of times in African and Caribbean homes.

So the fact that almost 22,000 black foetuses are terminated every year in the UK without provoking hardly a ripple of social debate, let alone the kind of political storms that accompany the issue in the United States, is all the more astonishing.

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the sheer amount of terminations, and the fact that they are so disproportionately black, should be a matter of public debate in Britain.

Lester Holloway


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