Students discuss impact of abortion on black community

COLUMBIA — Students from two University of South Carolina groups met with representatives of the Diocese of Charleston Oct. 13 to discuss the devastating impact of abortion on people in the black community.
About 50 members of University of South Carolina Students for Life and the student branch of the NAACP heard a presentation by Kathleen Merritt, director of the Office of Ethnic Ministries, and Kathy Schmugge, coordinator of the Office of Family Life.
Jamie Black, a coordinator of USC Students for Life, said she organized the meeting as part of the group’s ongoing efforts to bring speakers to campus to address different aspects of the pro-life movement. She said the group has been active at USC for 30 years, and in the past year  has brought about 10 speakers to campus.  
“Abortion in the African-American community was a topic we wanted to tackle for a while,” Black said. “I proposed the idea to the president of the NAACP and he invited us to bring in the speakers. I was surprised by how well the speakers were received, because I was afraid that politics and past experiences would prevent the group from hearing the message. Both groups seemed to get a lot out of Ms. Merritt’s talk.”
Merritt presented statistics that showed abortion is the leading cause of death for blacks in the United States. It is estimated that 13 million black babies have been killed since Roe v. Wade was passed in 1973.
Those statistics are supported by an Oct. 15 letter from Bishop Martin D. Holley, a member of the committee on pro-life activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Holley wrote that the more than 13 million babies lost to abortion is more than one third of the current black population in the United States.
“Since 1973, twice as many black Americans have died from abortion than from AIDS, accidents, violent crimes, cancer and heart disease combined,” he wrote. “Black women have abortions at five times the rate of white women.”
Merritt also spoke about studies that show abortion facilities such as Planned Parenthood are often built either near or in the middle of black communities.
“The event gave us an opportunity to get the facts about abortion out there, and to inform the NAACP about Birthright, a crisis pregnancy center in Columbia,” Black said. “Hopefully, now if those students or their friends face an unplanned pregnancy, they will have more information about choosing life.”
Schmugge said they also discussed issues such as embryonic stem cell research and what role religious faith can have in developing a pro-life perspective.
Members of the NAACP asked what they could do as students to stop abortion’s  impact in the black community. Merritt and Schmugge suggested that they learn more about crisis pregnancy centers and how to direct women to their services if they face an unplanned pregnancy.
Merritt told the students to speak out to the NAACP about the issue of abortion, and to spread the word about the true effects it has on the black community.
“Seeing the students’ reaction was good,” Schmugge said. “It wasn’t our goal to go in there and change their minds about how they vote. The goal was to inform them about abortion and what it does to African-Americans. We wanted to give them positive ideas and reflect on what is good within the African-American community, what gifts they have that can be used to combat abortion.”