The Truth about White Supremacists and Abortion

Published January 27, 2022

National Review

In the wake of the March for Life, abortion activists have returned to one of their favorite tropes: asserting that the pro-life movement is entangled with and operated by white supremacists. Op-eds in the Guardian and NBC News — the latter written by two abortion-rights activists — fixate on the fact that the white supremacist and neo-fascist group Patriot Front appeared at March for Life events in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Both pieces argue that the presence of the alt-right group is just one example of the supposed white nationalism that pervades the pro-life movement. “The white supremacist and anti-choice movements have always been closely linked. But more and more, they are becoming difficult to tell apart,” is how Moira Donegan puts it.

Neither article saw fit to mention that Chicago pro-lifers heckled Patriot Front demonstrators with comments such as, “This is a peaceful demonstration. You guys are an embarrassment,” until the group eventually stopped marching altogether. The Chicago March for Life even issued a statement ahead of the event preemptively disavowing the alt-righters: “The March for Life Chicago is in no way affiliated with the Patriot Front and opposes white supremacy.”

David Goldenberg of the Anti-Defamation League told the Chicago Sun-Times that Patriot Front often “takes advantage” of events such as the March for Life, showing up and pretending to participate or trying to commandeer the event, “really taking advantage of things that are already put together . . . to make it appear there are more who support their racist, anti-Semitic, hateful views.”

But these pro-abortion writers declined to acknowledge any of this, preferring instead to hang Patriot Front as a convenient albatross around the neck of the entire pro-life movement. Their presence — whether welcome or not — fits a false narrative that the pro-abortion movement has advanced for quite some time: Opposition to abortion is motivated by a desire to preserve the white population, which is diminished when white women have abortions.

This smear isn’t a new one. In a 2020 GQ article titled “The Anti-Abortion Movement Was Always Built on Lies,” journalist Laura Bassett advanced the incoherent thesis that Republicans before Ronald Reagan were pro-abortion because they were racist and that Republicans after Reagan became pro-life also because they were racist. In 2019, Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe asserted that “White Supremacists oppose abortion because they fear it’ll reduce the number of white infants and thus contribute to what they fear as non-white ‘replacement.’”

In reality, something much closer to the opposite is true. The pro-life movement has for quite some time been the sole voice noting and opposing how abortion disproportionately eliminates non-white populations. Pro-life organizations such as the Radiance Foundation exist primarily to highlight this reality and encourage black and Hispanic women to choose life for their unborn children.

No one familiar with how abortion takes place in our country could possibly believe that pro-lifers are motivated by the fear of non-white replacement. The U.S. abortion industry preys primarily on non-white Americans. According to research from the Radiance Foundation, nearly 80 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are within walking distance of neighborhoods occupied predominantly by black and Hispanic Americans.

Despite constituting only 13 percent of the female population, black women represent well over one-third of all abortions in the U.S. each year, the largest percentage of any group. Black women are five times more likely than white women to obtain abortions, Hispanic women are twice as likely, and abortions are highly concentrated among low-income women. Vital statistics data show that, in recent years, more black babies were aborted than were born alive in New York City. Between 2012 and 2016, black mothers in New York City had 136,426 abortions and gave birth to only 118,127 babies. Among white, Asian, and Hispanic women, births far surpassed abortions.

These disparities can’t be chalked up to differences in financial status that spur greater reliance on abortion. The Guttmacher Institute reports that “at every income level, black women have higher abortion rates than whites or Hispanics, except for women below the poverty line, where Hispanic women have slightly higher rates than black women.”

These sad realities are precisely why prominent white supremacists are openly pro-abortion, not pro-life — because abortion eliminates non-white children at a disproportionate rate and limits the growth of the non-white population. White supremacist Richard Spencer supports abortion, because, as he put it, “the people who are having abortions are generally very often black or Hispanic or from very poor circumstances.” White women, he says, avail themselves of abortion “when you have a situation like Down Syndrome” — an acceptable use of abortion, in his view. But Spencer celebrates that “the unintelligent and blacks and Hispanics . . . use abortion as birth control.”

Such rhetoric should not be surprising. The modern abortion-rights movement and abortion industry have their roots in the racism of early 20th-century progressives, who championed legal birth control and sterilization to advance their eugenic crusade. As Kevin Williamson has written, “The birth-control movement of the Progressive era is where crude racism met its genteel intellectual cousin.” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was among the leaders of that movement, which aimed to protect “Yankee stock,” or what Sanger called those of “unmixed native white parentage.” “The feebleminded are notoriously prolific in reproduction,” is how Sanger put it in Woman and the New Race. Sanger’s views were so abhorrent that even Planned Parenthood has finally been forced to disavow her.

While most of those early eugenicists weren’t themselves abortion advocates, their desire to eliminate the poor, the disabled, and anyone other than “Yankee stock” has been fulfilled by abortion today.

Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. @xan_desanctis

EPPC Fellow Alexandra DeSanctis writes on culture and family issues, with a particular focus on abortion policy and pro-life advocacy, as a member of the Life and Family Initiative.

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