A North Carolina pastor explained this week that she volunteered at a Planned Parenthood because her faith taught her to care for the people in her community. But it’s not a message that’s being embraced by anti-abortion conservatives.
In a column for Bustle this week, African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church Minister Emma Akpan reflected on the legislative actions and violent attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics.
“I can no longer watch as the communities I love are threatened and harmed,” she wrote. “As a clinic volunteer and reproductive justice advocate, I know how important clinics are to the women and men who rely on them for quality care and health information — including many Black women.”
Akpan pointed out that black women were more often in need of abortions due to their over-representation in low-wage jobs and other circumstances that dated back to slavery.
“Black women have had very little reproductive choice. During slavery, we were forced into childbirth to produce more chattel,” she noted. “Then, when our bodies were no longer profitable, the medical industry controlled our reproductive choice through forced hysterectomies, coercive birth control, and other methods.”
Akpan said she is angered by the anti-abortion protesters who stand outside of her clinic in Raleigh because “[t]hey make it seem as if Black women do not make our own decisions, that we are simply pawns in America’s racist society.”
“I am a clinic greeter because of my faith, which teaches me how important it is to provide care for my community,” she continued. “For me, that means ensuring that women have safe access to their health care facilities.”
“White supremacy dictates that we shouldn’t be allowed to get health care, to worship, or even to leave our homes,” Akpan lamented. “In every instance, the intention is to intimidate us. These attacks are linked, and so we Black leaders in faith communities must be linked in our response.”
However, conservatives have not embraced Akpan’s message. The anti-abortion publication LifeNews.com lashed out at her in response to the column.
“The violence committed every year against unborn babies, especially African American babies, is astronomical. Approximately 363,000 unborn black babies are killed every year in violent abortions in America,” LifeNews.com’s Micaiah Bilger wrote. “And the group doing more abortions than any other is Planned Parenthood, a business grounded in eugenics that pushes the kind of violence and discrimination that Akpan claims to be working against.”