Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said Wednesday that Planned Parenthood concentrates its clinics in black neighborhoods as a “way to control that population.”
“I know who Margaret Sanger is and I know that she believed in eugenics and that she was not particularly enamored with black people,” Carson said on Fox News about the Planned Parenthood founder.
Carson went on to claim that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is a supporter of Sanger and urged people to “look up and see what many people in Nazi Germany thought about [Sanger].”
The former neurosurgeon and other opponents of the women’s reproductive health organization have made similar arguments in the past, claiming that Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded in order to save black babies from being aborted.
The idea originated in the 1970s when the Black Panthers alleged that abortion would “destroy our people.” Jesse Jackson also claimed before he became pro-choice that “abortion is genocide.” But as controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood has become a major talking point for Republican presidential candidates in recent weeks, Carson has reiterated the debunked theory.
Lawmakers across the country have relied on the false claim when pushing for anti-abortion legislation. In Louisiana, a state lawmaker cited the higher rate of abortions among black women, compared to white women, in the United States as “black genocide” when she advocated for legislation to close three abortion clinics.
Planned Parenthood claims that abortions account for just 3 percent of its services. Eighty percent of its clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy at its health centers, many of which are located in urban areas with high African American populations.
While abortion rate black women is five times higher than that for white women, the rates reflect directly the rates of unplanned pregnancies for each race. Black women’s unintended pregnancy rates are the highest of all races and ethnicities, according to the Guttmacher Institute. That statistic is a result of the difficulties that many women in minority communities face in accessing high-quality contraceptive services and in using their chosen method of birth control consistently and effectively. A similar racial disparity exists for other health measures including rates of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections.
Carson has also addressed his concerns about abortion being used to control the African American population when he is asked about the Black Lives Matter movement. He told ThinkProgress last month that “all lives matter” and that the movement is “silly” and “divisive.”
“Black lives are part of all lives, right?,” he said at a rally to defund Planned Parenthood. “When we’re talking about a culture of life, then we ought to be talking about a culture of life and not allow ourselves to get caught up in all the divisive rhetoric and terminology and political correctness. It’s the reason we can’t make any progress as a society.”
Abortion opponents have co-opted the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting and declaring that “black babies lives matter.” At the rally outside the U.S. Capitol, Carson spoke in front of sign reading “unborn lives matter.”
Activists with the movement say this type of language discredits their communities and diminishes their goals.