Are single pregnant women, particularly black women, supposed to give birth or not?
Former presidential candidate Michael Huckabee said that too many black children are born to single mothers, yet anti-abortion billboards in large black neighborhoods claim, "the most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb."
So, if a woman is pregnant, should she give birth or not?
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The issue heated up recently when the billboards, sponsored by Life Always, appeared in large cities, including New York, where one was removed because protesters demanded it be taken down.
Pastor Stephen Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, a founding member of Life Always, told a reporter, "Black women do not believe they have an option besides abortion. We want that to be challenged."
The message we should take away from that is don't have an abortion. We are here to help you, right?
Then we hear Huckabee on a radio program say that recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, who is single and pregnant, is glorifying unwed motherhood.
"One of the things that's troubling," he said, "is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, 'Hey look, you know, we're having children, we're not married, but we're having these children, and they're doing just fine.'"
Most single mothers, he said, "are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of children out of wedlock.
The he said 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock, as are 61 percent of Hispanic kids. Nationally, 41 percent of all live births in America are out-of-wedlock births. "And the cost of that is simply staggering," he said.
The lesson from Huckabee, then, must be don't give birth if you are a single minority woman.
So, if you shouldn't have an abortion and you shouldn't give birth, what is a single woman to do? Abstain from sex?
Even single mother Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, has said that telling people to abstain is "not realistic at all."
I agree that there are far too many single mothers in minority communities and in white communities, where pregnancies out of wedlock are at 29 percent, but I am confused by the mixed messages.
And a woman can't get married — or pregnant — by herself, so why aren't we talking about the men, the fathers of these children, who could save the women from all this harsh criticism by marrying them?
Why aren't Broden and Huckabee calling them out man to man? It blows my mind that in 2011, we are still blaming women for getting pregnant.
And, most single mothers try to get off welfare. They don't linger on public assistance, because it is not a gravy train and it definitely is not something they want to pass down to their children. I know. I've been there.
So those women Huckabee spoke of are probably teen mothers, not just single mothers as a group. Don't lump them all together.
Huckabee issued a clarification of sorts after he was criticized for slamming Portman. In a statement to The Washington Post, Huckabee said he was not criticizing Portman but merely stating statistics about single mothers.
Even in that statement, men got a pass.
If we are going to tell women not to have abortions, then we need services to help them when the fathers of their children don't.
And if we have those services, we don't need potential presidential candidates chastising the mothers for the cost of those services.