Controversial Anti-Abortion Billboard To Be Taken Down
Texas based organization Life Always has caused controversy in New York City, after posting a billboard using a licensed stock photo of 6-year old Anissa Fraser under the words “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.”
NBCNewYork.com spoke with several passers-by who love or work int he SoHo neighborhood where the sign sits cater-corner on the side of a building; all of whom had negative reactions. Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio found the billboard offensive as well.
“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 according to NBCNewYork.com.
Life Always defends the message, and the website listed on the sign leads to a page of statistics that say an African American fetus is three times as likely to be aborted as a white fetus. naming Planned Parenthood as the “largest abortion provider in America”; Life Always claims to be exposing the according to them over 300,000 abortions that Planned Parenthood performs yearly.
While the organization claims to have good intentions, the insensitive nature of the billboard us taking center stage, and many, including De Blasio and young Anissa Fraser‘s mother are demanding that it be removed.
The Telegraph quoted Mrs. Fraser as saying “I would never endorse something like that, especially with my child’s image. It’s bad enough you’re saying this about African Americans, but then you put a child with an innocent face,” she added. “I want them to take it down.”
The target of the campaign; Planned Parenthood also weighed in on the issue.
“These billboards are offensive and disturbing,” Planned Parenthood NYC spokesperson Roger Rathman told NBC New York. “The creators are using divisive messaging around race to restrict access to medical care.”
Speaker Christine Quinn called the sign a “pathetic attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood.” She said further 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.”
Anti-abortion organization Heroic Media posted similar billboards last year in Jacksonville, FL. and Austin, TX. This year, Life Always is picking up where Heroic Media left off. The SoHo billboard was set to run for three weeks, but Colorlines reports that a Planned Parenthood statement released this afternoon confirms it will come down immediately.
“It is with great joy that I write to report that Lamar Outdoor Advertising has agreed to pull the billboard on 6th Ave and Watts depicting an African-American girl with the disturbing tagline ‘The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the Womb,’” Planned Parenthood of New York posted in a message on Facebook. The statement continued:
Following a letter to Peter Costanza, Vice President and General Manager of LaMar Billboards, written by the Women of Color Policy Network, NYU Wagner, Mr. Costanza responded affirmatively that they would remove the billboard. I truly believe that our collective quick action, phone calls and letters to the company are directly responsible for their decision to pull the ad. However, we must remain vigilant. Life Always is committed to spreading the campaign throughout country and there are continued threats to access to the full range of reproductive health services for low-income women and communities.
Time will tell if the same reactions occur in other cities.