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Anti-Abortion Billboard With Obama Image Draws Fury

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An anti-abortion group is drawing outrage, for using an image of President Barack Obama in a billboard targeting African-American women.

The Texas-based group Life Always mounted the first set of more than 30 planned billboards at 5812 S. State St. It shows an artistic rendering of Obama in profile, with a message alongside the picture reading, "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted."

The group says 25,196 abortions happened in Cook County in 2009, and the motivation for the billboards is to "to encourage reflection on the disproportionate number of abortions among African American, who comprise less than 13 percent of the population and about 36 percent of the country's abortions."

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In a statement on the group's Web site, Life Always Board Member the Rev. Derek McCoy says, "These are babies who could grow to be the future President, or the next Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington or Maya Angelou."

But the billboards are drawing protests already, and some opponents want them taken down.

The group Black Women for Reproductive Justice calls the billboards "offensive to black women and the black community overall." The group says it saw workers "cowardly" mounting the billboards in the dark overnight, and finds the message infuriating.

"These billboards are painting an abhorrent image of Black women as perpetrators of a plan to eradicate the future Black race," Black Women for Reproductive Justice president and chief executive officer Toni Bond Leonard said in a news release. "That they would place these billboards in the Black community with such a despicable lie is reprehensible."

Life Always has already caused a stir with the messages on its billboards. Last month, a three-story high billboard was mounted on the side of a building in the SoHo section of New York City, reading, "The most dangerous place for an African-American woman is in the womb." reports the billboard was mounted about half a mile away from a Planned Parenthood facility.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn accused the group of trying to make women "fearful of a legal reproductive health care choice that they have in this country," CBSNewYork reported.

The Rev. Al Sharpton also objected, saying, "You cannot win people to your view by offending, and insulting, and depicting people based on who they are, rather than what they decide."

The New York billboard was taken down amid the protests.


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