Austin anti-abortion group targets African Americans in NYC, causes controversy
An Austin-based anti-abortion group’s foray into the Northeast media market is causing quite the controversy. According to Texas Secretary of State records, Heroic Media founder Brian Follett is the registered agent for Life Always, the group that paid for a three-story high billboard that’s part of Follett’s campaign targeting African Americans in urban areas.
Records show that Life Always was registered with the state on Jan. 14, at the same northwest Austin address as Follett’s other nonprofits, including Heroic and The Life Foundation.
The Manhattan billboard, featuring a picture of a young African-American girl and the phrase “The Most Dangerous place for an African American is in the womb,” went up earlier this week and has already been the subject of many local news stories and a topic of conversation on ABC’s “The View.”
(Read the Texas Independent for previous reporting on Heroic in Texas. Read the Florida Independent for previous reporting on Heroic’s efforts in Florida.)
Dallas’ WFAA-TV reported that pastor and former congressional candidate Stephen Broden is also leading the effort in New York City. Broden — who has been a featured Heroic speaker — like Follett, has compared the abortion of African Americans to ‘genocide.’
While similar Heroic billboards in Texas and Florida feature links to websites DangerousPlace.com and PPabortsAA.org, the NYC billboard has a link to the website ThatsAbortion.com. (Billboards in Houston and Austin do not specifically mention Planned Parenthood or African Americans.) In addition to Broden and Follett, other members of the board of directors for Life Always include Abby Johnson — a former Planned Parenthood director who recently gave testimony in favor of pre-abortion sonograms in the Texas Legislature; and Derek McCoy — a Maryland pastor.
The main banner on the PPabortsAA.org website now also refers to the ThatsAbortion.com website — clicking on that button takes users to Heroic Media‘s website. The banner on DangerousPlace.com also refers to the ThatsAbortion.com website but does not contain a hyperlink.
The websites also link to the website OptionLine.org, a joint project of Care Net and Heartbeat International that refers women to nearby crisis pregnancy resource centers. Heroic, Care Net and Heartbeat International are all faith-based nonprofits.
Follett previously told the Texas Independent that Heroic is partnering with African-American pastors to help them open crisis pregnancy resource centers in their communities. (Heroic also is expanding into Latin America.)
A reporter for the FOX affiliate in NYC interviewed the mother of the girl whose picture appears on the new billboard. Tricia Fraser told the FOX reporter that she signed her children up with a modeling agency to be photographed, and although she realized the photos could be sold as stock images, she never intended for and does not want her child’s image to be the face of an anti-abortion campaign targeting African Americans. According to the FOX story:
“I would never endorse something like that,” Fraser said. “Especially with my child’s image.”
“I know what I went into that shoot for,” Fraser said. “And that’s not what I agreed to. I want them to take it down.”
“It’s bad enough you’re saying this about African Americans, but then you put a child with an innocent face,” Fraser said. “I just want the image off of it. Use another image — just not hers.”