Black Public Scholars

January 21, 2011

Dr. Boyce: Senator Feels that Being Black Means Obama Must be Pro-Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Staff @ 11:27 pm



by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is a principled and ambitious man.  His career took off during the 1990s with a far Right Wing platform and his constituents seemed to love him.  In spite of his staunchly conservative disposition, Santorum seemed like the kind of guy who could one day (unsuccessfully) tap at the door of the White House, assuming that he didn’t make any major mistakes.   But then again, we all know what they say about assumptions.

In a recent interview with CNS News, Santorum made the latest of a series of serious political errors by invoking race into the debate over abortion.  In reference to President Barack Obama, Santorum said the following: “The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn’t want to answer — is that human life a person under the constitution?  And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.’”

So, it appears that Santorum thinks that because Barack Obama is black, he should automatically be pro-life.  I’ve seen this sort of argument on billboards and in private conversations, when pro-lifers drum up conspiracy theories about how Planned Parenthood is strategically located to abort as many black babies as possible.  In his version of the racialized abortion argument, Santorum seems to be implying that because blacks were once considered to be three-fifths of a human being, we should be concerned about an undeveloped fetus not having rights to citizenship.  

To be clear, I am not a fan of abortion, and I also do not buy into the “It’s my body so I can abort when it’s convenient” argument frequently used by some pro-choice Americans.  I find it ironic that killing a newborn baby is considered to be a heinous crime, but aborting one fetus after another barely gets a second thought.  At the same time, pounding us over the head with the bible and using Jedi mind tricks to get black people to support their cause makes some in the pro-life camp look silly.  Those of us in the middle of the two extremes on abortion find ourselves both confused and manipulated on a regular basis.


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