During the Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the bill, Pence claimed, “I say with a heavy heart that abortion is now the leading cause of death in the black community,” and equated abortion with slavery and the legislation with the struggle for civil rights and women’s equality:
The loftily-named Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) purports to somehow protect the “civil rights” of fetuses. In reality, it’s an opportunity for Republicans to denigrate the “family values” and character of communities of color that typically have higher abortion rates because of inadequate health insurance and poor sex education, among other reasons.
Pretending that terminated pregnancies cause more death and suffering than illness or violence is to be willfully ignorant of those ravages on the black community. The actual leading causes of death among African Americans include heart disease, cancer, stroke, homicide, and HIV/AIDS. According to the CDC, there are striking health disparities between blacks and other racial groups because of discrimination and lack of access to health care.
Because of inadequate health care, the AIDS rate among African Americans rivals that of some African countries. Homicide — often related to gang violence — is the leading cause of black males ages 12 to 19 years old.
If Republicans really wanted to do something to curb unnecessary deaths in the black community, they should improve access to health care, take on inner-city gang violence and provide more mentoring and education opportunities for young blacks — initiatives they have shown no interest in and have sought to defund.