With the recent decision from Alabama, Georgia and now Missouri on abortion, the topic has set social media pages ablaze with spirited discussion ranging from heavy conversations to vicious verbal spats with little in-between. In this clash of thought and ideology, it seems everyone has an opinion they’re ready to explode into.
One such example of the discourse can be seen in these tweets where NFL Player Ben Watson responds to Reach Records co-founder Lecrae’s own tweets about his experience with abortion as well as take on the issue.
🙋🏾♂️ here I am bruh. In the womb, outside the womb, conception to grave count me in. Standing for life does not have to be a mutually exclusive event. https://t.co/nS3n7CfEz9
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) May 16, 2019
Many would agree with Watson, yet the reality remains that enough people like Lecrae feel the tension between pro-life and the lives outside of the womb. For many believers pro-life is the staunch or only view to have.
How can we help, and explore the role of Christian rap to show the love of Christ in a dark and murky situation? And why isn’t simply enough to say you’re “pro-life.”
We’ve got a good bit to unpack, so let’s dig in, starting first with some numbers. Over 870,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2017 alone according to the CDC. That number has remained relatively high in the last decade.
According to Ben Watson in an interview “…if men were standing up doing what they were supposed to do, much of this [abortion] would be eradicated.”
The answer, in part perhaps, requires looking at the role of men in situations where a life is created. Since it requires two to create, men play a significant role in the issue of abortion.
So why is it that over 870,000 abortions took place? What are some of the reasons that shed light on why so many have made the choice to terminate the life of the unborn? Is it a cold-hearted or selfish mind, or is it something else deeper?
“It’s wrong,” but who’s right?
Often, we get so caught up in the arguments, back and forth if choice or life is right, debating across red and blue lines that politicize human lives. Often we don’t listen to the voices and needs of those considering it as an option.
When it comes to listening to those affected it can seem at times we ignore them until it is convenient for a promo or a video.
And I hate to burst your bubble, but ending abortion is not as simple as limiting access to medical professionals.
The macro is a sin and heart issue, but if prohibition or Internet piracy has taught us anything it is that legality won’t stop people from getting what they’re after.
So the next best thing is to ask, what are they after?
When people have to face a choice between bad and worse they will choose what makes the most sense to them at the time. But we still have the question remaining: What then could or would drive many to choose what many consider death? What would drive prospective parents – mothers – to a point that they would terminate a life?
Also, who are they?
For an answer as complex as a question let’s look at some statistics on the matter.
Get ready for more stats
When someone isn’t being given an option they will choose what makes the most sense to them. According to the CDC, Women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions in 2015 and had the highest rates. In 2015, unmarried women accounted for 86% of all abortions. Among married women, 4% of pregnancies currently end in abortion. Among unmarried women, 27% of pregnancies end in abortion.
Even more numbers to consider
- In 2015, women who had not aborted in the past accounted for 56% of all abortions; women with one or two prior abortions accounted for 35%, and women with three or more prior abortions accounted for 8%. The abortion rate of non-metropolitan women is about half that of women who live in metropolitan counties (NAF).
- The abortion rate of women with Medicaid coverage is three times as high as that of other women (NAF).
- In 2014, 30% of aborting women identified themselves as Protestant and 24% identified themselves as Catholic (AGI).
So to paint a general picture thus far, the primary group of women receiving abortions is between 20-29, unmarried and in or around cities. This is where it gets really interesting.
Among white women, 10% of pregnancies currently end in abortion. Among black women, 28% of pregnancies end in abortion (CDC). Black women were more than 3.5 times more likely to have an abortion in 2015 than white women, and some data showed that 36.0% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2014 were performed on Black women. That might not seem like a large number until you consider that only 13.3% of the total population is Black.
That means for every 1,000 live births, non-Hispanic Black women had about 390 abortions, while non-Hispanic white women had 120 abortions per 1,000 live births.
Let that sink in for a moment.
If you’re a man, chances are you’ve come up with a few thoughts, opinions, and maybe even a plan of action to solve the problem. A good question to ask yourself right now before you continue is are you listening? Listening to what Christ says first, are you praying? Second, are you listening to what women, those most heavily involved in this topic are saying? Are you listening to what black women, the demographic most disproportionately impacted are saying?
Before answering that, let’s educate ourselves on a few reasons. The reasons tend to overlap, with the majority of responses giving at least two or three primary reasons, some giving four, and others as many as eight. The most common pairs (of reasons) were “inability to afford a baby and interference with school or work,” “inability to afford a baby and fear of single motherhood or relationship problems,” and “inability to afford a baby and having completed childbearing or having other people dependent on them.”
The main motives according to this data women are opting for termination is a combination of not having enough help and too much responsibility. A callous look might shift the blame, but often this conversation silences or ignores the voices of the women most affected. We can give a voice to the voiceless, but we need to hear out the cries of the birthing, not just the born.
“In-depth interview respondents gave an average of five reasons (range, 1–10) for why they were ending their pregnancy. Women’s responses often did not fit the categories of the survey; the reasons tended to overlap between the domains of unplanned pregnancy, financial instability, unemployment, single motherhood, and current parenting responsibilities.”
- “The reasons patients gave for having an abortion underscored their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life.
- The three most common reasons—each cited by three-fourths of patients—were a concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.
- Half said they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems with their husband or partner.”
This is a common theme. The picture of those being disproportionately affected by abortion is young, unmarried, women of color.
The Role of Christian Rap
The artists of the industry can be powerful voices of influence for change by promoting female voices. With artists like Wande signing to Reach or RMG signing Danielle Apicella it might seem like CHH as a whole is embracing female emcees and giving a platform long overdue to the equally talented sex.
Giving a musically as well as cultural space for women’s perspective on issues – like this one – only makes sense.
Opening up space for conversation on a difficult subject is a role many have taken, from recent projects like Raul by WHATUPRG to a throwback song like “Jim Crow” by Sho Baraka, the music of Christian hip hop has long been a window into the culture as well as a vein into the beating heart and pulse.
A song like Kyra DeNae ft. Beleaf’s Choices and Plans, a song speaking heavy on the thoughts of, ramifications, and contemplation of abortion, or another on Lecrae’s album Anomaly. Sharing his own raw story of paying for an abortion, he gets vulnerable and shares a story laced with regret but ends with grace and hope in “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.”
“Ignored the warning signs/
Supressed that truth I felt inside/
I was just havin’ fun with this/
I’m too young for this/
I’m thinkin’ me myself and I/
Should I sacrifice this life/
To keep my vanity and live nice/
And she love and trust me so much/
That whatever I say she’ll probably oblige
But I was too selfish with my time/
Scared my dreams were not gone serve/
So I dropped her off at that clinic/
That day a part of us died”
Watch The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
The role of CHH and the Christians who populate it can be one promoting social change. Taking away choices isn’t the end-all-answer. We can help by supporting and listening to female voices, in addition, to advance philanthropic ventures, volunteering at church or serving to change communities.
The point is that people need aid, not legislation. While Christians tend to be among the leaders in terms of adoption, and are involved in their communities in various roles, the fact that many still opt for early termination should highlight a need not yet being met. Lecrae is speaking on a big point here that goes over many peoples’ heads. People need help outside of the womb if the hope is that they are to protect life inside of it, and that starts, in my opinion, with women.
Societies marginalized and overlooked have long needed a voice that hip-hop has always provided, whether to cry for an innocent child’s life lost or shout a protest of police brutality; from L.A. streets to suburbs of Chicago, NYC graffiti jungles to Louisiana bounce. If you listen closely you can hear them speaking, not where you are.
When we talk about issues like abortion – the right to life or chose, but aren’t intentional to include the voices of women in those conversations – namely black women, we’re missing a major opportunity and a vital key to gain a sense of understanding on the matter. We’re missing a chance to empower. Just as important within the genre of CHH we have long needed to refocus and be intentional about supporting female talent that is undervalued not under-talented.
Pro-life isn’t and cannot only be about the unborn, but must extend to the mother and her needs, input, and care as well. So while Ben Watson and others might emphasize a man’s role, let us not forget this is an issue men are not the authority on.
The point is this, many recognize that life in the womb is important, so let us not forget to respect a woman’s voice in this matter and many others.