Since billboards went up in Georgia some months ago claiming that black children are an endangered species because of abortion, reproductive justice advocates have spent time and resources addressing the black genocide conspiracy theory and setting the record straight. That makes sense – a false accusation left unaddressed can too easily be seen as the truth. So, it comes as no surprise that advocates have focused on refuting false allegations and explaining the truth behind the numbers game proponents of the black genocide myth play. I, however, have also been wondering who is behind this revival of the black genocide myth. It seems to me that organizations claiming to expose “the truth” that then proceed to manipulate data and lie about the mission of reproductive health care providers, have earned a review themselves.
In Georgia, two groups joined forces to purchase billboards claiming that black children are an endangered species – Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) and The Radiance Foundation. I was already familiar with GRTL, but The Radiance Foundation was new to me. A quick Google search took me to The Radiance Foundation website. The mission of The Radiance Foundation, founded by Bethany and Ryan Bomberger, is:
Through various forms of media, speaking engagements, multi-media presentations and community outreach efforts, we illuminate the intrinsic value each person possesses. We educate audiences about societal issues and how they impact the understanding of God-given purpose. We motivate people to positively affect the world around them. Our content is professionally designed and connects with people cross culturally and gross generationally.
Isn’t it amazing how so many words can say so little?
I decided to dig deeper. Google searches of Ryan and Bethany Bomberger turned up a lot of websites created by Ryan Bomberger and some articles covering the endangered species campaign in Georgia. The Radiance Foundation website hosts biographies for both Ryan and Bethany Bomberger and both appear to be anti-choice adoption advocates who also support the black genocide conspiracy theory. The Bombergers are not new to the media spotlight, having appeared on Showtime at the Apollo, Good Morning America, ABC Family’s My Life is a Sitcom, and Oprah.
While The Radiance Foundation website appears to market the Bombergers themselves, one of their other websites - TooManyAborted.com - is all about marketing the black genocide conspiracy theory. TooManyAborted.com boasts the tag line “no hype. just truth” and offers several videos perpetuating the black genocide conspiracy theory while also making allegations that reproductive health care providers are dishonest and use deceptive tactics to manipulate women of color into seeking abortions in order to continue a genocide of black people. As I moved through the website, I clicked on the site’s YouTube button and viewed a video titled “Lies: Part 1” by The Radiance Foundation. The video features cleverly edited clips of reproductive health care advocates with the word “lies” repeatedly flashing across the screen.
I tried to imagine that I was the target of this marketing campaign and began looking for information about reproductive health care services. If the site’s creators are making the case that reproductive health care providers are engaged in a conspiracy of deception to perpetuate a genocide of black people then I wanted to see what they considered “no hype” and “just truth.”
I clicked on the Get Help option under the Contact Us tab on the TooManyAborted.com homepage and then clicked on the tab titled Get Help Today. I was taken to a different website, Optionline.org, for an organization called Option Line. On their About Us page, Option Line says the following – “Option Line consultants refer each caller to a pregnancy resource center in her area for answers to questions about abortion, pregnancy tests, STDs, adoption, parenting, medical referrals, housing, and many other issues. The toll-free number is available to callers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers from across the country can reach a trained, caring person and then be connected to a pregnancy resource center near them for one-on-one help. Option Line is a call center located in Columbus, Ohio, formed as a joint venture between Care Net and Heartbeat International.”
The same web site that claims reproductive health care providers lie to and manipulate women is sending women who seek information and advice about their options to a referral service for crisis pregnancy centers which have been proven to provide inaccurate medical information about abortion and use shame and scare tactics when counseling women.
What happened to “just truth” – did it get lost somewhere between the web page full of inaccurate information about abortion services and the page alleging the danger of Post-Abortion Stress that provides a link to an online Abortion Recovery survey that starts off with “Any of these circumstances might lead you to regret an abortion later. How many of these apply to you?”
I must confess that, after this exercise, I better understand the seductive appeal of conspiracy theories. It would be easy to build a conspiracy theory that alleges that TooManyAborted.com is a hype-laden truth deficient referral site for crisis pregnancy centers. But conspiracy theories, regardless of how cleverly they are presented, do nothing to empower women of color. We deserve better – medically accurate information, access to the full range of reproductive health care services and respect for our ability to make medical decisions about of reproductive health. We deserve choice – we’ve had enough hype to last us a lifetime.