Anti-Abortion Billboard Sparks Controversy

Billboard reads, "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb"

By Shiba Russell
|  Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011  |  Updated 10:46 AM EDT
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New anti-abortion billboard in SoHo has many asking if its going too far.

New anti-abortion billboard in SoHo has many asking if its going too far.

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An anti-abortion billboard in Manhattan has a lot of people questioning whether the message belongs on the side of a city building.

"I find it a little troubling and offensive,” said Kerry Linder, who works in the area.

The billboard, located at the corner of Watts Street and Sixth Avenue reads: "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb" and it directs pedestrians and motorists to visit the website thatsabortion.com. 

“They don’t have to single out African-American children. They could have said the most dangerous place for a child is in the womb,” said Byron Wright of Brooklyn. He first spotted the billboard from his fourth floor office window and immediately called the city’s 311 hotline.

Public Advocate Bill De Blasio demanded the billboard be taken down.

“This billboard simply doesn’t belong in our city. The ad violates the values of New Yorkers and is grossly offensive to women and communities of color,” said De Blasio.

The anti-abortion nonprofit organization behind the billboard said its goal is to shock people and spark discussion. The spokesperson for Life Always, Marissa Gabrysch, said the group is trying to highlight its belief that Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods with the 300,000 abortions it performs each year.

“There’s a grave disparity and just a huge disproportion that African-Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population yet represent 36 percent of abortions in the United States,” said Gabrysch.

Texas-based Life Always also claimed that twice as many black babies have died from abortion than from violent crimes, AIDS, cancer, heart disease and motor vehicle accidents combined.

Planned Parenthood issued the following statement in response to the billboard: “These billboards are offensive and disturbing. The creators are using divisive messaging around race to restrict access to medical care,” said Roger Rathman, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood NYC.

Speaker Christine Quinn lambasted the billboard as a "pathetic attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood."

"To refer to a woman's legal right to an abortion as a 'genocidal plot' is not only absurd but it is offensive to women and to communities of color," Quinn said in a statement. "Every woman deserves the right to make healthcare decisions for herself and I will continue to fight to protect this basic right and against this sort of fear mongering."

"Offensive rhetoric and deceptive actions against a woman's right to choose will not be tolerated in our city."

Similar billboards have been displayed in Jacksonville, Fla. and Austin, Texas last year by another anti-abortion organization called Heroic Media. Life Always took over Heroic’s national campaign in January. The billboard in Soho will remain in place for three weeks.  It is the first one to be put up in the tri-state area.

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