Anti-Abortion Billboard in Soho Is Removed

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An anti-abortion group's controversial billboard was taken down from its Soho location Thursday night.

The advertisement at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Watts Street pictured a toddler with the tagline: "The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb."

Lamar Advertising decided to take down the billboard for the sake of "public safety," Hal Kilshaw, a spokesman for the Louisiana-based company said.

Rev. Al Sharpton canceled plans to protest the billboard, which he said "depicted black women in an unfair way" and was pleased with the decision to take it down.

Life Always, the Texas-based group responsible for the ad, said in a statement that it disagreed with the advertising company's decision to take down the billboard.

Pastor Stephen Broden, who is black and is the leader of Life Always, said earlier in the week that Planned Parenthood's dominance in the black community has resulted in the high rates of abortion among black women. 

"They have represented their case with sophistication of messaging and with the kind of mantra that has been unchallenged in our community. It is time for us to challenge it because the impact is devastating," Broden said.

Broden said young black women should learn more about adoption and other ways they can carry their pregnancies to term.

In a written statement, Planned Parenthood called the billboard "a condescending effort to stigmatize African-American women while attempting to discredit the work of Planned Parenthood."

City council Speaker Christine Quinn called the billboard offensive and absurd.

Passers by who spotted the billboard Wednesday afternoon were either offended or confused.

"I've actually wanted to help organize a whole bunch of my friends to take that sign down," Suman Raghunathan, 34, said, "because it is incredibly offensive and it's a crazy confluence of racism and classism. "

With the Associated Press


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Comments [27]

Latifah Johnson

In “Anti- Abortion Billboard in Soho is Removed”, Cindy Rodriguez, talks about Planned Parenthood dominance in the black community has resulted in high rates of abortions among black women. The article is very persuasive to me because it states a lot of facts and gives peoples opinion about the billboard. The saying on the billboard states it all; “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” I agree one- hundred percent because I am an African American that is also pregnant. “In the United States, the abortion rate for black women is five times that for white women.” Black women are not alone in having disproportionately high unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. The abortion rate among Hispanic women, for example, although not as high as the rate among black women, is double the rate among whites. Pastor Stephen Broden who is black and is leader of Life Always says, “Young black women should learn more about adoption and other ways that they can carry their pregnancy term”. This is really good that he said this because there are other options than getting an abortion. We African American women do need to be educated on the right and wrongs of abortion. Suman Raghunathan, 34, said, “I’ve actually wanted to help organize a whole bunch of my friends to take that sign down, because it is incredibly offensive and it’s a crazy confluence of racism and classism” I do not think that is racist because it is not like that they are saying African Americans are the only one getting abortions, it is just stating that is a high percentage of black women getting more abortions than any other race. Some black women have abortions because they don’t want kids or just because. But they do not consider what they just have do not or blankly just don’t care. I just feel like no women should even think or walk into the doctor’s office asking for an abortion. The “Life Always Organization Exploit and Humiliate Black Women” article are exposing the truth about how Planned Parenthood target minority neighborhoods as they perform over 300,000 abortions a year. The billboard is about half a mile from a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. The billboard is influencing black women in our society and how wrong it is to do what they are doing. Life Always member Stephen Broden said that Planned Parenthood has had a devastating effect on the sustainability of the African American population. I think abortion is something people should never consider. They should know the consequences of having unprotected sex. People do not know or consider other consequences after getting an abortion. When you have an abortion you are killing a human being. I believe it is not fair to the fetus because he or she did nothing wrong. It is not their fault that they were conceived. I think parents who decide to abort their babies should be penalized. They should make abortions illegal; because there are always other options to consider like adoption.

Jan. 24 2012 01:29 PM

the billboard could have said a lot of things but it didn't. It said what it said. denial doesn't make the isms' go away. acknowledging and rectifying the situation does.
also a womb cannot be separated from the woman it belongs to and yet these people fail to realize how dangerous it is to be a woman with a womb or a brain for that matter.

Feb. 28 2011 05:49 PM
Tony D from NYC

No matter which way one feels about this ad, the controversy over this billboard has given it a reach FAR beyond the corner of 6th Avenue & Watts St., NYC. Now it has had national exposure. The people who put it up should be pleased.

Feb. 28 2011 10:56 AM
Americathefree from nyc

Listen... this has nothing to do with race. The fact of the matter is that these idiots used an innocent little girl(someones daughter) to advertise the nonsense! The message is fine...let a fetus grow,but wouldnt have had a better impact if they had an anonymous ultrasound as the photo? The message could have read " The most dangerous place for an unborn child(of any ethnicity) is the womb! This was done with country outback ignorance from the sticks!! Keep it down there Jethro..New York is better than that!! Oh by the way...I'm 100% Native American ... how bout!!

Feb. 25 2011 03:56 PM
hlk from NY

Perhaps the advocates of morality will think of who they offend before they shoot off their big mouths in the future. Sadly I expect not!

Feb. 25 2011 03:46 PM
Paul J. Bosco from Manhattan

The NY Times article, cited in one comment, notes that in the US, 20% of pregnancies are aborted. In NYC, 40%. Among NYC black women, SIXTY per cent.

There is a point here, which the billboard addresses very effectively. Calling an unborn baby a "zygote", as one commenter does, is cowardly.

As for offensiveness: May I ask, what was the fFIRST YEAR in which a billboard urging tolerance for homosexuals would not have been considered offensive?

How does NYCers' opposition to this exercise of the FIrst Amendment differ from the meddlesome, intolerant opposition, from out there in the hinterlands, to the "ground zero mosque"?

Suck it up, New York. Let others have their say. Except for Red Sox fans.

Feb. 25 2011 12:24 PM
RBC from NYC

"Broden said young black women should learn more about adoption and other ways they can carry their pregnancies to term."

Pastor Broden would have a good argument if he could help the tens of thousands of black children that linger in foster care & group homes get permanent homes. Black children are the least likely to be adopted by traditional families. Thankfully gay couples are more willing to adopt black children, but Pastor Broden and his religious ilk are against gay adoption.

Feb. 25 2011 11:55 AM
RBC from NYC

I don't think the billboard was racist, but it is definitely misguided. Abortion is not the problem; its just an action, a resort, a result. The REAL problem is the factors that led to a black woman - or any woman - resorting to abortion. The problem is more than just sexual irresponsibility. The problem is the fact that we are now in an economy where people are unable to raise children (i.e. long hours at work, expensive day care, high costs of living, bad schools).

The real issue for black women is whether the father of this child will be around to help her take care of the child. The high incarceration, murder and unemployment rates of black men make the father's absence a real possibility.

Feb. 25 2011 11:48 AM
RJ from Maryland

When I read this article I was very offended. Then reading futher at the comments left I was shock that alot of people said it was not racist. I just hate that is has black women singled out. Knowing ever race has issues.

Feb. 25 2011 10:34 AM
Paolo Mastrangelo

It's worth noting that the billboard was not erected "this week", but was already there by Wednesday, Feb 16, as I saw it on that date and on Thursday the 17. I understand every news outlet seems to report a different date the billboard appeared, usually some date this week, but nonetheless, if a date is going to be used to mark the day the billboard went up, the correct one should be used. Even if you can't verify the fact that it was up on Feb 16, (I took a picture!) Marissa Gabrysch, press contact at LifeAlways, told me she knows the billboard has been up at least since Monday, Feb 21. I'm sure the sign company could verify what date they put it up.

Feb. 25 2011 01:33 AM
matt from brooklyn

Reminds me of something Frank Zappa said, "You know something people, I'm not black, but there's a whole lottsa times I wish I could say I'm not white."

Feb. 24 2011 11:22 PM
oscar from ny

these labels make me sick,..they have a real slick way of insulting the mind, instead of using tact, well these new "free" ideas of marketing everywhere even inside the trains i figure is only organized crime graffiti

Feb. 24 2011 08:49 PM
Pocho from the Hudson Valley

It is a fact, a painful one. Not racist, and yes strong reminder of what goes on every day in the streets of New York

Feb. 24 2011 06:08 PM
Fernán from Argentina

Honestly, I don't see racism in this message. It's just showing the truth, which can be shocking sometimes.

Feb. 24 2011 05:38 PM
Pocho from the Hudson Valley

It is a fact, a painful one. Not racist, and yes strong reminder of what goes on every day in the streets of New York

Feb. 24 2011 05:21 PM

For those of you who oppose the sign should ask themselves if they oppose this from the jan 6th NY Times article:

"The most recent statistics show that there were 87,273 abortions in 2009, down from 94,466 in 2000. "

Is this decline a good thing or a bad thing?

Feb. 24 2011 04:41 PM

Whether the billboard itself is racist or not, I cannot say as I'm a member of the dominant, Caucasian race. However, as this group has mentioned that this ad is especially directed at Planned Parenthood, I feel absolutely sick that they would try to deter Black women from utilizing the valuable information gained by visiting Planned Parenthood. There is a reason that they go by the moniker "Planned Parenthood:" it's NOT because all that they do is provide abortion after abortion but it's because they provide valuable information on how to be a parent should that be your choice or how to avoid becoming a parent for whatever the reason. With the human population at an all time high and poverty and undersupported children also at an all time high, these antiabortionists should realize that before we can really worry about the unborn child, we have to worry about those that already exist. To insist that women - some of whom either CANNOT or WILL NOT care for their child appropriately - give birth to a child regardless of the circumstances is terribly irresponsible and even downright evil. How about instead of spending money on telling folks how "dangerous" it is in the womb for the black youth, how about spending money on educating the elder brothers and sisters of those unborn "youth" about the REAL DANGERS that exist in this world and in poversty stricken neighborhoods specifically.

Feb. 24 2011 04:19 PM

This sign is definitely not racist. Overpowering? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Opinionated? Yes. Racist? No. They could have chosen a better way to get their opinion out though. If you're pro-life or pro-choice, you have your views- putting up a giant sign like that won't really do anything but annoy people. Also, what is the policy if one becomes pregnant through rape or unwanted means. Did the mother have a choice? Now this is going into my own opinion, but I think that the billboard is a bit overbearing.

Feb. 24 2011 03:59 PM
Wayne from New York

I really don't understand why some people are so offended with truth. And I don't find the add offensive at all. I believe some people just don't want to confront the reality/consequences of their actions. And, honestly, I believe a lot of the anger in response to this add stems from some people with very quilty consciences over the choices they have made in the past. I am african american. To say that an add is rascist simply because it is directed toward african americans seems foolish and an obvious attempt to demonize & silence someone just because you disagree with their viewpoint. If you don't like freedom of speech, you are more than welcome to move to Cuba, Russia, Iran . . .

Feb. 24 2011 03:14 PM
destiny from Harlem, NY

You came from a womb. I have a womb. See how much we have in common? Now sign the petition to remove this billboard (it only takes 2 seconds with a FB account) so the jerkfaces at the group "Life Always" can stop talking about mine. Uhm, misguided, it what you want-- I happen to want it DOWN!!!

Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James and I need 1000 signatures by tomorrow at noon. Hurry! It will take less than one minute.

Feb. 24 2011 02:44 PM
destiny ramjohn from harlem

You came from a womb. I have a womb. See how much we have in common? Now sign the petition to remove this billboard (it only takes 2 seconds with a FB account) so the jerkfaces at the group "Life Always" can stop talking about mine. Uhm, misguided, it what you want-- I happen to want it DOWN!!!

Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James and I need 1000 signatures by tomorrow at noon. Hurry! It will take less than one minute.

Feb. 24 2011 02:43 PM
hlk from New City, NY

What another interesting way to divide Americans, i.e. stigmatize Blacks. These pro-lifers should try adopting these unwanted children instead of dictating the morality of the rest of us.

Feb. 24 2011 02:11 PM
Ruben from NYC

Amazing at how people shoot the message and the messenger, but do not take the time to think about the message itself. It's not a racist message... visit the website..

Feb. 24 2011 12:45 PM
Mary from nyc

This is ridiculous. You have these people, pouring millions of dollars to save zygotes & embryos, while we've got kids that have been out of the womb for quite sometime dying from malnutrition.

It's not right. The money that went into that advertising campaign could have gone to better use. It could have gone towards saving 100% CERTIFIED HUMANS.

Feb. 24 2011 10:56 AM
Grubbanax from Luggage Point

Those pro-lifers are definitely a very sick bunch! Disgusting.

Feb. 24 2011 06:17 AM
Conceived as a human being from the americas

I've been waiting a long while, this gives a grave new meaning to the expression "Truth in advertising."

Something for all Americans to ponder, and be better informed about. The reality of the human child in the womb, and the responsibility we have toward authentic human sexuality.

Feb. 24 2011 12:50 AM
Honest Abe from NYC

I actually just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Which, I'm guessing, was the intent. How noble.

Feb. 23 2011 09:33 PM

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