She noted that Planned Parenthood successfully advertises abortion for young women because they feel they have "no resources" to care for a child.
The connection among abortion, poverty, and racism runs deeper and wider than many in the pro-life movement are aware, panelists said, but it's a connection that needs to be made.
The poverty rate among black women is almost three times that of non-Hispanic white women, Rivers said, arguing that this is the result of historically racist laws and policies that were crafted to exclude black families from benefits which boosted other white families into the middle class and beyond.
This helped create a generational wealth gap between whites and African-Americans that exists to this day, Rivers said.
If pro-lifers became more acquainted with this history, she said, they could be seen as having an "underlying understanding of the depths of the problems" of racism.
Gloria Purvis said winning broader support for the pro-life cause in the Black community require more "humility" from activists and politicians.
"Stop trying to dictate to black people how they should vote, what should be their number one issue, or that somehow you know better than they do about what real racism is. Do not do that," Purvis said.
"For goodness' sake, stop saying things like 'the real racism is abortion'," she said, noting that pro-lifers should be able to talk about both racism and abortion without marginalizing either issue.
In line with the event's title, Purvis said treating racism as a life issue requires first that pro-lifers not deny it is an issue at all.
"For goodness' sake, please, please, stop with the political talking points of the far-right. You will turn people off faster than you know what," Purvis said, giving examples of people bringing up "black-on-black crime" or black fathers being absent from their families in conversations about race, to argue that systemic racism doesn't exist.
Purvis said the "number one pushback" she receives in her outreach is the belief that pro-lifers "only care about black life in the womb when it comes to politics or election time."
(Story continues below)
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