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Controversial Anti-Abortion Billboard Causes Stir In SoHo

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A three-story high billboard put up in SoHo Tuesday night is causing quite a stir.

1010 WINS' Juliet Papa gets reaction from residents in the neighborhood. Listen to what they have to say:


The billboard, located at the corner of Watts Street and Sixth Avenue, reads: "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb." As CBS 2's Pablo Guzman reports, while the ad was intended to spark debate, for many, it's simply sparked outrage.

If the idea of advertising is to get your attention, the billboard doesn't disappoint. It's the combination of the girl and those words. East Flatbush's Daisy Frith's initial reaction was typical.

"WHAT?" she said.

The billboard is part of a national campaign sponsored by the anti-abortion group "Life Always" and hangs about a half-mile from a Planned Parenthood facility on Bleecker Street.

The Texas-based group claims Planned Parenthood targets minority neighborhoods and that abortions among African-American women are three times that of the rest of the population.

WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond talks with the group who paid for the billboard.


"And I'm sure black women are going to respond, in large part, because they have only heard one side of the argumentation. They only see it from Planned Parenthood's position of a woman's right to choose, meaning that the only choice that a woman has is to abort the baby. That's not the only choice!" said Pastor Stephen Broden from the anti-abortion group LifeAlways.

Pastor Broden said his group bought the billboard to get exactly this kind of debate going.

"That kind of billboard isn't going to help you make an educated choice. It's a little, emotionally planted," said Taffeta Wood of Park Slope.

"Why in the world are they doing that in SoHo? If we had put it in Harlem, I guarantee you that we would have been ignored," Broden said.

They have not been ignored.

"They are putting up a billboard sending … scaring women! Trying to make them fearful of a legal reproductive health care choice that they have in this country," NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

The city's public advocate, Bill Diblasio, called the billboard "grossly offensive" and wants it removed.

"It's kind of a big scare tactic, it just doesn't make sense," one woman said, adding that a more constructive message could address social issues to reduce abortions.

However, one New Yorker told 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa that he doesn't object to the billboard.

"I think they're trying to send a message to us African-Americans because we do do a lot of abortions and I think we shouldn't be doing it," the man said.

There is huge irony in Frith's reaction to the billboard. She actually is not for abortion, but she still doesn't like the billboard.

"I am totally against abortion. No, I still don't like it," Frith said.

"The survival of our country, our nation is tied to the woman's womb! And if we are assaulting that womb, if we are attacking that womb, we are on a path to self-destruction!" Broden said.

And the group said it put the billboard up during Black History Month -- to spark more discussion.

The group says other controversial billboards will be up for at least three more weeks.

Planned Parenthood issued a statement accusing the creators of "using a divisive message around race to restrict access to medical care."

In December, the city health department released statistics that showed 39 percent of pregnancies ended with induced termination in 2009 -- The Bronx was the highest among the five boroughs, according to the report. Blacks had the highest number of abortions with 40,798 with Hispanics having the second highest at 28,364, according to the report.

What do you think of the billboard? Should it be removed? Sound off below

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