Planned Parenthood of Illinois finds the billboards posted in Chicago’s south side to be an offensive and condescending effort to stigmatize and shame African-American women while attempting to limit their ability to make private, personal medical decisions.
This coordinated national campaign spearheaded by a Texas group is a reprehensible tactic and is harmful to women in every community who need quality, affordable health care. Planned Parenthood knows that every woman, of every background, takes her health decisions seriously and makes deeply personal decisions after consulting with her doctor and with loved ones she trusts.
Planned Parenthood believes that racism is wrong and has absolutely no place in the delivery of healthcare. Our doors are open to everyone. Every person should have access to high-quality, affordable health care; ensuring this access is critical to eliminating the health disparities among racial and ethnic groups.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois provides care to more than 60,000 men, women, and teens each year. More than ninety percent of our services are preventive, and include: lifesaving cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, contraceptive consultations, and GYN exams. In 2010, we provided 34,770 STI tests, 161,678 family planning visits, 15,440 contraception consultations, 19,572 cervical cancer screenings, and 21,393 clinical breast exams. Sixty percent of our patients live at or below the federal poverty level.
We know that African-American women are disproportionately affected by the current health care system which involves multiple barriers to accessing quality, affordable care. This results in higher rates of sexually transmitted infections, unintended pregnancy and abortion.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois works every day with women of all background to improve the quality of their health care and to help them keep themselves and their families healthy through education, preventive care, and screenings for major health problems regardless of their ability to pay.
When similar billboards appeared in Atlanta last year, columnist Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote, “It's both sexist and racist to suggest that black women don't have the intellectual and emotional firepower to make their own decisions.”
When similar billboards appeared in Los Angeles in January, Janette Robinson Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness, wrote in New America Media, “Black women stand at the intersection of racism and sexism in this country, and we face the pain of living at this crossroads every day. It is demonstrated by our health status — we suffer from some of the highest health disparities in Los Angeles County. Rather than allow outside agitators to barge in and try to divide us by scape-goating Black women for political gain, Black women’s organizations and our allies must come together to find solutions to ending the health disparities and crises we face.”
When a similar billboard appeared in New York City last month, Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton said the New York billboard "sends a message of racial profiling and discourages a woman's right to choose." He praised Lamar Advertising's decision to remove it just one day after it was posted.