The most recent anti-Planned Parenthood video took aim at Black women, communities and history. Just days after what would have been Emmett Till’s 74th birthday, Students for Life unveiled a video in which clinic staff allegedly scrutinized an aborted fetus. “Call him Emmett,” suggested the video, and make him this century’s civil rights symbol — just like the 14-year-old Emmett Till’s murder by White Mississippi racists galvanized the modern civil rights movement.
Let’s call the video what it is — the latest in the anti-abortion movement’s appropriation of civil rights and its crass manipulations of history. And it won’t be the last because abortion opponents have long capitalized on the very real history of how exploiting Black bodies has been foundational to the United States, whether we talk about slavery, medical experimentation or mass incarceration. But while “pro-lifers” seek to sway Black people by acknowledging the past, they spin history and foster myths and misconceptions about not just Planned Parenthood, but also Black people’s responses to various reproductive and sexual-health issues.
Here’s a guide to help you sift through the distortions behind such videos and the fury of anti-abortion Tweets targeting Black women (i.e. the #unbornlivesmatter hashtag.)