Benjamin Watson says racial injustices help fuel abortion crisis among black Americans

Retired NFL star Benjamin Watson at the 'Alive From New York' event hosted by Focus on the Family in Times Square, New York City, on Saturday, May 4, 2019.
Retired NFL star Benjamin Watson at the 'Alive From New York' event hosted by Focus on the Family in Times Square, New York City, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. | The Christian Post/Leonardo Blair

Former NFL tight end and Christian pro-life activist Benjamin Watson is urging pro-lifers to consider the historical injustices that have contributed to the fact that abortion has disproportionately impacted black Americans. 

Watson, the vice president of strategic relationships with Human Coalition who played 15 seasons in the NFL, is the author of The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race, and a Pro-Life Commitment to Justice. The new book, released this week in time for the first anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, explores how pro-lifers can create a just society for everyone and render abortion "unthinkable." 

During an interview with The Christian Post, the 42-year-old father of seven stressed that there is a "strong sentiment" for life within the black community, which has existed throughout the years of enslavement, the Civil Rights Movement and even now. 

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The reason many in the African-American community may hesitate to identify as pro-life, he believes, is due to the term's association with white Republicans. 

"The black community is being impacted in a way by abortion that really nothing else has impacted," Watson told CP. "We brush it under the rug a lot of times in this country because it's uncomfortable to talk about; it's political. But as a black man, as a black Christian, and as a black American, I see abortion as the threat that it is." 

Watson clarified that he is typically not one to say that black folks are specific targets for abortion, but he did note that Planned Parenthood and other abortion industry organizations are "going to go where the fish are."

According to Watson, the abortion industry offers its services in areas where it believes people are most susceptible to abortion. 

Due to the systemic issues that have historically impacted the black community, the Super Bowl champion argued that the African American community is more susceptible to abortion. 

"So we have to fight it on both sides," he said. "We have to confront Planned Parenthood. We have to confront the abortion industry and the way that they are eliminating our future."

"But we also have to hold America accountable for all the injustices that have happened and continue to happen that contribute to Planned Parenthood being able to go to the black community and offer abortion as some sort of solution," Watson said.

"When you look at it, nothing has changed since abortion has been legal. In the last 50 years, abortion has not solved any of our issues, and it never will." 

According to Live Action News' breakdown of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2020 abortion data, black women had the highest abortion rate that year, accounting for an estimated 243,168 abortions. Despite making up 12.4% of the population, black Americans made up 39.2% of abortions.

The data also showed that the black abortion rate was four times higher than the white abortion rate and over two times as high as the Hispanic abortion rate. 

While Watson acknowledged the weight of these statistics, he advised pro-lifers against blindly citing these numbers without considering the connection between the underlying issues impacting the black community and abortion.

"Quite frankly, it is sometimes insulting to hear black people, and specifically black women, used as mascots for abortion or as talking points on the impact of abortion, especially when it comes from individuals or ideologies that don't acknowledge the present and historical struggles of Black Americans in this country," Watson said, "and also the black American victories in this country." 

Watson listed issues such as high unemployment rates, which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about 60% higher for blacks than it is for whites. He also stressed that it's unhelpful for pro-lifers to highlight abortion rates in the black community without addressing the disproportionately high maternal mortality rates for black women. 

Watson, who authored the 2015 book Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us, encouraged pro-lifers to discuss solutions to the problem of abortion and address what he described as a "plethora of issues" women and men are facing, particularly in a post-Roe v. Wade era. 

The pro-life advocate cited data from Human Coalition's 2021 annual report, which found that 76% of women the organization served said they would "prefer to parent" if their circumstances were different. Regarding the circumstances, many reported having a troubled relationship with the baby's father, housing troubles or found themselves in a difficult economic situation. 

A man of faith, Watson also highlighted the Church's role in advocating for life. He noted how the abortion issue has impacted people inside and outside of the Church but said the advantage held by those who have faith is that they have the power of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of Christ.

"What Satan wants to do to the Church is to make us numb or to render us useless by not addressing this issue because of the hurt when we need to be the ones that are leading the charge," Watson said.

"Not only when it comes to talking about the image of God of children in the womb, but the image of God, on every man and woman that is walking the face of the earth, as well as those who are sitting in our pews who have had abortions."

In addition to helping congregants facing a challenging pregnancy or finding healing after an abortion, Watson encouraged churches to initiate discussions about godly sexual relations. 

"We need to talk about how God created sex, what it is, and the beauty of it," Watson said. "How it is worship before Him, how it is for pleasure and procreation, and how it is used in the context of marriage. We need to teach all those sorts of things within the Church because the world is going to teach what the world teaches." 

"If we're not willing to teach truth because we're uncomfortable about it, because we've had our own failures, we are not living and doing what God would have us to do not only for ourselves but for our nation and for our communities and also for our kids." 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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