An anti-abortion billboard on display in New York City’s Soho neighborhood has sparked a controversy over its message towards the African-American community.
The sign, which features an innocent looking black girl reads, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”
The pro-life organization, Life Always, paid for the sign and defends its message as a way to bring attention to the high abortion rate in black communities. Pastor Stephen Broden, a Life Always board member, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that "it's hard to celebrate Black History Month" with abortion "hanging over our community."
Broden said the billboard’s message is meant to be a “proactive” way to bring attention to the issue that "abortion is out-pacing life in our community."
The billboard happens to be placed about a half mile from a Planned Parenthood’s Manhattan office. Critics noticed the location and lashed out at the message.
"They're attacking women for choosing abortion while simultaneously destroying family planning," said spokeswoman Mary Alice Carr for the New York-based National Institute for Reproductive Health. "Their hypocrisy is as large and as obnoxious as this billboard."
Rebecca Wind, a spokeswoman for the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based research center for sexual and reproductive health told CNN that Life Always is probably considering statistics that say African-American women tend to have high abortion rates when compared to other demographic groups.
In Wind’s opinion the disparity is due in part to a "lack of adequate services" in many black communities, which "has resulted in more unintended pregnancies.”
Reverend Derek McCoy, another Life Always board member, was adamant when he told reporters something needs to be done about abortion in the black community and that the billboard "calling attention to a dramatic event."
"This is a truth and tragedy," he said. Of course critics disagree.
"The issue is here they are doing a campaign, targeting one group of women and making them feel guilty and shameful about family choices that they are making," Carr said. "You can't take a woman and lift her out of her experience."
Life Always plans to erect more billboards across the country.
After threats of protest outside the building the billboard was posted on, public saftey concerns were raised which forced Lamar Advertising, the company that rents the ad space, to pull the billboard. Hal Kilshaw, spokesperson for the Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising, said it was more a pulbic safety issue than controversy that caused them to pull the ad.