- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

It arrived in my e-mail last Friday; a press release about a journalism conference on mortality rates for black Americans.

I looked at the conference description, but there was nothing there about black abortions.

Or why blacks, who make up about one-eighth of the U.S. population, have more than one-third (37 percent) of America’s 1.2 million annual abortions. Or how, if you take 37 percent of America’s 45 million abortions between 1973 and 2005, you come up with 17 million people.

The National Association of Black Journalists‘ Conference on Health Disparities has all the trappings of a well-run effort. Speakers at the Jan. 30-31 meeting in Atlanta include Dr. Kevin Fenton of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, Phill Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute and Linda Blount of the American Cancer Society.

The focus is on enlightening journalists on health issues that plague blacks, such as mental health issues from incarceration, heart disease, breast cancer, strokes, HIV/AIDS and childhood obesity.

No mention of a procedure that ends one out of every three black pregnancies?

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which compiles reproductive health statistics, black women abort their children at five times the white rate and twice the Hispanic rate. The rate is 11 abortions per 1,000 white women, 28 for every 1,000 Hispanic women and 50 for every 1,000 black women.

I contacted the NABJ and asked why there was not at least one workshop on this topic. Everyone knows abortion is connected to health care. Ask Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The conference organizer said she had never seen the figures I was quoting — sort of like a Jewish reporter professing ignorance of the Holocaust.

Please. The Guttmacher Institute should be on the Rolodex of every health reporter. Abortion is the country’s most common surgical procedure. One of every four pregnancies is terminated this way. Women who get abortions are mostly young, poor, single, and black or Hispanic.

I was told the NABJ’s schedule was too full for yet another workshop. At best, unplanned pregnancy might be dealt with during a session on women’s health, but not, she said, as a morals or values issue.

So, religion is simply irrelevant here?

Day Gardner, director of the National Black Pro-Life Union, says abortion clinics are purposely located in minority neighborhoods.

“A lot of people don’t report abortions in the African-American community,” she said. “African-American people are culturally pro-life. Generally, we have larger numbers of children than white people do. I was one of seven children. My mother was one of nine.

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