NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Pressure to pull down a shocking anti-abortion billboard has worked. The controversial message, featuring a child, was on display in SoHo for days – and gone in an instant on Thursday night.
"I'm happy someone was smart enough to take it down," Steve Ben Israel told CBS 2's Dave Carlin.
A woman tells 1010 WINS' Kathleen Maloney that she's happy to see the billboard come down
A blank space is all that's left after it took just minutes for workers to erase the message that had many New Yorkers upset for three days.
"I think it's racist and offensive," Rachel Schipper said.
It was impossible to miss the building-sized anti-abortion announcement on Watt's Street in SoHo. The controversial billboard read, "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb."
"I don't like it, so I'm glad they took it down," Inwood resident Monica Vidal said.
"I'm glad it's not up there, upsetting people, anymore," added Paige Berges of Midtown.
The removal was ordered Thursday by Lamar Outdoor Advertising – three weeks before it was scheduled to come down – after a chorus of complaints and protests planned Friday by community groups, including that of the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"I think they got a lot of attention, but they may not have gotten a lot of support," Rev. Sharpton said.
The Texas-based group behind the billboard, "Life Always," released a statement that it "strongly disagrees with Lamar Outdoor's decision to remove the billboard…but the billboard's message holds true…that abortion is outpacing life in the black community."
"The survival of our country, our nation, is tied to the woman's womb," Pastor Stephen Broden, of Life Always, said.
"You cannot win people to your view by offending, and insulting, and depicting people based on who they are, rather than what they decide," Rev. Sharpton said.
"It sounds like it really got people talking and raised their awareness, and maybe that's not a bad thing," Schipper said.
People on both sides of the abortion issue said they're hoping, now that the billboard is gone, that there can be thoughtful debates on what is always a tricky and emotional societal concern.
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