A controversial new billboard is asking Texas to #TrustBlackWomen when it comes to their reproductive rights. That includes abortions as well.
A billboard put up by the Dallas-based Afiya Center features three smiling African-American women with a tagline that boldly declares, “Black women take care of themselves by taking care of their families.”
“Abortion is self-care,” it reads in bigger, bolder letters.
Paid for by the Dallas advocacy group, which focuses on Black women’s reproductive rights and health, the billboard comes nearly a month after an equally controversial billboard paid for by the Black Pro-Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group, the Star-Telegram reported. That earlier billboard declared that “Abortion isn’t health care,” arguing that it “hurts women and murders their babies.”
Naturally, Afiya’s counter-billboard sparked backlash. However, the center, which also offers HIV programming and research on Black maternal mortality, has remained unapologetic in its approach.
“The Afiya Center has ALWAYS supported women having access to the FULL SPECTRUM OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE SERVICES. Period,” the group wrote in a statement posted to Facebook. “This billboard is just a physical representation of language we have been using this whole time. We believe the ONLY people who can make decisions about women’s bodies are the women themselves.”
“We are for complete autonomy,” it continued. “COMPLETE AUTONOMY. 100%, with no caveats.”
On its website, the group adds that its work is rooted in fighting to change “the harmful reproductive health and abortion policies that directly impact the lives of Black women.”
Some people applauded the billboard for sparking a much-needed conversation to be had about women’s reproductive rights.
“I saw this billboard from @TheAfiyaCtr the other day and I screamed in joy: “Abortion is self-care” YES!!!” one woman wrote. “We are having this conversation in Texas y’all!!!”
“Please show @TheAfiyaCtr some love today, wrote another. “They are getting a massive amount of flak for putting this brave and necessary billboard up in Dallas. Women deserve to have access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services. This is especially dire in Texas. #TrustBlackWomen.”
Others fiercely disagreed, however, and saw the billboard as yet another racist ploy pushing for the murder of Black babies. Centers for Disease Control data cited in a 2014 report by The Atlantic revealed that African-American women are five times more likely to terminate their pregnancies than their white counterparts.
“The boldness of abortion-racism,” activist and author Obianuju Ekeocha tweeted last week. “Black communities are being targeted by the abortion industry … Here’s a billboard campaign to glamorize the killing of black babies.”
Anti-abortion advocate Lila Rose echoed that sentiment, saying the billboard encouraged Black women to “exterminate themselves.”
“The abortion lobby’s war against Blacks is real,” she tweeted.
The Afiya Center issued another response in the comments section of its Facebook post on Tuesday in response to the backlash, posing a question to its critics.