Last week on “The View,” moderator Whoopie Goldberg engaged co-host Sherrie Shepherd about her recently published interview in “Precious Times,” a magazine specially designed “for Today’s Black Christian Woman.” Sherrie’s controversial, or perhaps, not so controversial interview, sparked a renewed conversation that African American women have discussed among sistafriends for years: that of repeated trips to the abortion clinic.
Saying that before her debatable enlightenment and “conversion to Christianity,” Sherrie admitted that she had “had more abortions than I would care to count.” Why did this comment by “The View” co-host make headlines across the media world? Perhaps it is because of the sheer honesty of Sherrie Shepherd to make public a private and controversial skeleton that she obviously has many regrets over. But the question is, how is it that a woman can find herself a repeat at the abortion clinic, right? Another really serious question that comes to mind is why is abortion, a very expensive procedure, used as the primary source of birth control when your neighborhood CVS offers a large box of condoms for under twenty dollars?
The controversial Supreme Court decision, Roe V Wade, celebrated thirty-five years of legalized sanctioned abortions this year. In thirty-five years, has sexual responsibility and accountability expanded to play a major role in African American women’s health? One would be hard-pressed to reply in the affirmative. According to CDC reports and analysis, African American women “have much higher rates of abortion.” It was reported that African American women made up seventeen percent of all live births in 2000. But, African American women also made up more than twice that amount in abortions.
According to data researched and collected by the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that believes in “advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy, analysis and public education,” half of all women in the United States having an abortion in 2002, had already had one prior abortion. Does this mean that repeat abortion clinic visitors were lax in their reproductive health?
Not according to the findings of the Guttmacher Institute:
“Repeat unintended pregnancies that end either in abortions or unplanned births occur among women from all economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds, suggesting that the reproductive health care system in general is failing to provide women with the services and counseling they need.”
The Guttmacher Institute concluded that:
“The majority of women having abortions were using contraceptives when they became pregnant… in fact, women obtaining second and higher-order abortions were slightly more likely to have been using a highly-effective hormonal birth control method when they became pregnant.”
So, what does all this mean? It means that there is a problem. If a woman finds herself at the abortion clinic, making a decision that she will have to bear on her conscious for the rest of her life, what initially brought her to this point? Could it be broken down to poor judgment and haphazard choices? With the African American family as dysfunctional as we all know it to be, could the factor of unwanted pregnancies be tied to the need to be loved and wanted, even it is for a moment in time? Has the African American community turned a general blind eye to the startling statistic that more than seventy percent of the babies being born to African American women, are being born outside of marriage? How did this shocking statistic make itself home in our community?
Sherrie Shepherd was dissected for her promiscuity and numerous abortions last week unfairly. She is not an exception. Unfortunately, her situation has become the rule in the African American community. This journalist knows first hand the strong power of low self-esteem, self-hatred and the overwhelming need to feel and be a recipient of ‘so-called love’ through promiscuity. But that lifestyle only brought this writer pain, poverty-stricken single parenthood, anguish and an almost fatal botched abortion that led to a decade of sterility.
If African American women took noting of nothing else from Sherrie Shepherd exposing herself, they should take away this sobering reality:
African Americans in this country are the new faces of AIDS. African American women between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four are now the number one contractors of the virus that causes AIDS, HIV.
Note: Sherrie Shepherd claims that her conversion to Christianity and her then lack of knowledge of God is what propelled her into a world of promiscuity. This writer disputes that fact. Sherrie Shepherd was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from birth onward, and she, as she readily admits from time to time on “The View,” had a working spiritual database that repudiates premarital sex. However, it should be noted that it was not the lack of knowing God that led to this lifestyle, but the aftermath of Sherrie Shepherd’s poor judgment or lack thereof.