Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is well known as a diehard opponent of abortion. He formerly served as the executive director of the Arizona branch of the Family Research Institute and has called President Obama an "enemy of humanity" because of his pro-choice stance.
Franks may have gotten himself in more trouble than he anticipated, however, when he insisted to blogger and political activist Mike Stark that abortion was worse for African-Americans than slavery.
"In this country we had slavery for God knows how long," Franks told Stark. "And now we look back on it and we say, 'Well how blind were they, what was the matter with them.' ... And yet today half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more black children, far more of the African-American community, is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery."
Stark's own comment on the interview is that "it sounds an awful lot to me like the Congressman is suggesting that blacks were better off as slaves. To be fair, Congressman Franks is as sincere as he is conservative. The issue of life never falls out of first place in his legislative priority list. I don’t believe for one second that he intends to insult anyone; I don’t think he sees the racism (or paternalism) in what he’s saying. Still.... This is pretty bad."
Franks did go on to acknowledge, "Sometimes we're a little bit emphatic and sometimes we get angry and say things that we shouldn't say. And I apologize right here in front of everybody by saying things, especially if they're not true, that are intemperate. But I don't want to hide from the truth."
According to blogger BruinKid at Daily Kos, however, Franks' claim is not the truth. BruinKid calls Franks' "1 in 2" figure "pure bullshit" and explains that it came from "a blatant misreading of the original 2004 CDC report."
This is not the first time Franks has made similar statements about black abortion rates. He wrote last April in the conservative Washington Times, "The history of the American abortion movement is replete with evidence of the purposeful placement of family planning clinics in areas with high concentrations of minorities. ... The impact has been devastating to black families. Fifty percent - 1 in 2 - of black children are aborted today in America. ... Do we realize that, primarily through federally funded abortion clinics placed in our inner cities, we are contributing to the deadliest form of discrimination in our country's history against the most-discriminated-against minority in American history by systematically eliminating fully half of all blacks waiting to be born?"
According to BruinKid, however, what the CDC report actually says is that among black women there are 472 abortions for every 1000 live births, meaning that "if you want the percentage, it's 472 / (472 + 1000) = 32%. (FYI, the percentage for whites is 13.9%.) Now, I don't want to get into a debate on whether 32% is too high of a number. But we simply don't refer to a percentage that less than one-third as being 'almost half'! Well, unless you're a pro-lifer, I guess."
An additional aspect of the "black genocide" argument was recently addressed by Shani O. Hilton, writing at The American Prospect about an ongoing billboard campaign in Georgia.
"Poor women have four times as many unintended pregnancies as women who live above the federal poverty line," Hilton writes. "Among black women -- who are more than twice as likely to be poor than white women -- the numbers are even more dramatic. Sixty-nine percent of their pregnancies are unintended, and they have 37 percent of all abortions, a number wildly disproportionate to their representation in the population. Black women may be having more abortions, but that doesn't prove that they're being coerced into having them. The only thing it proves is that black women are disproportionately having pregnancies they didn't intend."
But perhaps the aptest comment on Franks' remarks was provided by a blogger from his home state of Arizona, Stephen Lemons. "Republican Congressman Trent 'Foot-in-Mouth' Franks is truly the gift that keeps on giving," Lemons writes. "The goofy, amiable wingnut from Arizona's Second Congressional District is known for his hard-right stance on just about everything from abortion to President Obama's birth certificate, which he desperately wanted to see at one point. To say he's outdone himself with his latest racially-charged statements ... would be ignorant of Franks' history of saying stupid stuff. Granted, though, this one is a dozy."
"Considering his record for wacky statements," Lemons concludes, "Franks should walk around with a sign that says 'I'm sorry' round his neck. Would save us all a bunch of time."
This video was posted at YouTube on February 26, 2010.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/459Dny0aabI&hl=en_US&fs=1& expand=1]