The image: a black schoolgirl in a sundress. The location: a huge billboard in New York's SoHo district. The advertiser: Texas-based anti-abortion group Life Always. The copy: "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb." The predictable result: controversy. "It borders on racist, but all good people of conscience should be offended," says Brooklyn council member Leticia James. "It minimizes the emotions that young women have to go through when faced with this predicament." Life Always defends the ad, citing statistics that show African Americans account for 36 percent of U.S. abortions, although they make up 13 percent of the population. One of its board members, pastor Stephen Borden, ratchets up the rhetoric: "Our future is in jeopardy as a genocidal plot is carried out through abortion." Is this fear-mongering? Cheap scare tactics to capture the media and public's attention? The effort can certainly be interpreted that way. Ad strategy, of course, is strictly a matter of choice. And far be it from me to deny any group its right to choose. UPDATE: The mother of the girl pictured on the billboard wants it taken down. "I would never endorse something like that," says Tricia Fraser, the mother of 6-year-old Anissa Fraser. "Especially with my child's image." Fraser signed up with a modeling agency and had all four of her children photographed. She did sign a release form for the photos to be used as stock images. UPDATE 2: The company that owns the billboard, Lamar Advertising, has decided to take down the ad, according to reports. The Rev. Al Sharpton had planned to protest the billboard on Friday. He praised Lamar's decision.
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