The anti-abortion movement is suddenly obsessed with Cardi B

Conservatives' response to Cardi B is part of a long history of using black women to fight abortion.

American rapper, singer, songwriter, and media personality Cardi B arrives for the traditionnal Clive Davis party on the eve of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on January 28, 2018, in New York.  / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
American rapper, singer, songwriter, and media personality Cardi B arrives for the traditionnal Clive Davis party on the eve of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on January 28, 2018, in New York. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Everyone has an opinion on Cardi B’s decision to have a baby, and now so do the anti-choicers.

The anti-choice movement and its supporters are capitalizing on a recent radio interview with Cardi B. In the interview, the rapper explains why she decided against having an abortion, after many people criticized her for having a baby amidst stardom. But the anti-choice crowd has ignored much of what she said during the interview, and in the process, simplified a conversation about work, pay, and motherhood. They merely used an Afro-Latina’s story to elevate their cause.

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The 25-year-old Bronx rapper — who in the last month, released a new album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, co-hosted The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and performed on Saturday Night Live — first announced her pregnancy on SNL roughly two weeks ago, showcasing her baby bump in a Christian Siriano gown.

The news was immediately met with judgment from some social media users, who said things like: ‘”couldn’t of chosen a worse time to get pregnant” and “I’m disappointed that’s career suicide.”

And to this, Cardi B said on Twitter, “I started winning when the whole world was doubting on me. Think imma lose with my little baby counting on me?”

Last week, she elaborated on her decision to have a child during an sit-down with Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club:

Charlamagne tha God: But with everything did you ever think of — you know — about not having the baby?

Cardi B: Um, kinda sort of and then again it’s just like no, I just didn’t want to deal with the whole abortion thing. I just didn’t want to.

Charlamagne tha God: The regret of it, probably?

Cardi B: Yeah — I just didn’t want to. It was just like, you know what, I’m a grown woman. I’m 25 years old. I’m say this in the most humble way — I’m a schmillionaire. You know what I’m saying? And I’m prepared for this.

Angela Yee: I love what Remy Ma said too because it is true for women — men have kids, continue with their careers, nothing stops. And for women it’s so different. They try to act like ‘Oh if you have a baby, it’s the height of everything.’ But it is proof that you can be pregnant and have a baby and still be at the height of everything.

Cardi B: Yeah you know what, it just really bothers me and it disgusts me because I see a lot of women online like, ‘Oh I feel sorry for you! Oh your career is over!’ It’s like oh why can’t I have both? Like as a woman, why can’t I have both? Why do I gotta choose a career or a baby? Like why can’t I have both?

Several conservative websites have since written about the interview, including the anti-abortion website Life Action. Fox News’ Laura Ingraham even shared the news on Facebook.

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All the commentators focused on was Cardi B’s comments that she doesn’t have to choose between having a child and pursuing her career. They’ve framed it as a win for the anti-choice movement because Cardi B is having the baby.

But in framing her comments this way, these commentators are fundamentally misleading people on the right to choose. The pro-choice movement is about choice. That means, choosing to have an abortion or, like Cardi B, choosing not to.

Reproductive justice more broadly, led by reproductive advocacy groups run by people of color, calls for abortion access as well as health care access — particularly, if a person decides to keep the baby. SisterSong and the Center for Reproductive Rights, for example, launched Black Mamas Matter, which advocates for Medicaid expansion. (Anti-abortion advocates alternatively have siphoned public dollars that help low-income moms to prop up their own agenda.)

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Using an Afro-Latina woman to argue against abortion isn’t a new concept. Black women have always been used to make this point. Historically, many anti-choicers have compared abortion to slavery. Others have decried it as “black genocide,” and used Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s problematic statements on eugenics as justification to argue this. So it’s no surprise that anti-choicers are so eager to elevate Cardi B’s comments.

The commentators aren’t even listening to Cardi B. She clearly said in that interview that she’s more financially stable. As she says, she’s a “schmillionaire,” which is why she says she’s comfortable moving forward with her unplanned pregnancy. This isn’t the case for everyone, which is why reproductive justice (of which abortion access is a part) is important.

Equally important is a more nuanced conversation about what modern motherhood looks like — particularly for people of color.

Nearly a decade ago, Lauryn Hill sang about her to decision to have a baby even when people told her to “use your head” and choose her career in “To Zion”. Today, there’s even more research on the “motherhood penalty” — where moms  take a financial hit when they return from childbirth and are penalized at work for even the possibility that they’ll have kids one day. Even so, Cardi B is rejecting this societal penalty.

“For a woman to be perceived as successful, we are taught to hold off having children and getting married until our thirties,” writes Shanicia Boswell notes for Black Moms Blog. “Our twenties are for having fun, making mistakes, and ‘finding ourselves’. While this path works for some, it doesn’t apply to all.”

But as many have already noted, it’s likely people critical of Cardi B are projecting their own version of what success should look like. This is especially strange since the rapper’s idiosyncratic way into stardom demonstrates she’s anything but conventional.

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“Electing to become a mother amidst burgeoning superstardom is boldly unconventional. But so is most everything about Cardi’s rise,” wrote Ronda Racha Penrice for NBC’s Hot Take. “From her humble beginnings as a stripper, college dropout and minor reality star to her current pop stardom, Cardi has emerged as a surprisingly strong voice for women who dare to make choices society may disagree with.”

Penrice notes that Cardi B is expected to deliver in July, just two months before she goes on tour with Bruno Mars. She hasn’t cancelled, and it’s looking like she won’t. Just this past weekend, a pregnant Cardi B twerked on stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, challenging the public’s perception of motherhood yet again.