Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website claims to use “statistical analysis to tell compelling stories about elections, politics, sports, science and life” and attempts to present itself as a moderate voice, alongside its fellow Disney-owned media properties such as ESPN and ABC News, both of which have endured heavy criticism for erroneous and ideologically driven reporting in recent years. FiveThirtyEight’s recent abortion article, however, goes a long way toward disabusing readers of the notion that it is an empirical or centrist media outlet.
The inaccurate screed argues that the pro-life movement is intrinsically rooted in racism, even though the modern abortion industry is an outgrowth of blatantly racist and eugenicist thought among early 20th-century progressives. Even more bizarrely, it argues the pro-life movement has ties to “replacement theory,” an oft-quoted idea in corporate media that the left will politically dominate due to a massive influx of immigrants.
The article, “How The Fight To Ban Abortion Is Rooted In The ‘Great Replacement’ Theory,” written by Alex Samuels and her colleague Monica Potts, even openly contradicts its own thesis.
In order to make this tenuous assertion, the article invokes the recent racist mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. The authors note that in the shooter’s 180-page manifesto, he “expressed concern about the declining birth rates of white people. That’s because the anti-abortion movement, at its core, has always been about upholding white supremacy.”
However, the shooter never once mentioned the word “abortion,” and that’s probably for a very obvious reason: Racists understand that legal abortion is very helpful for their twisted cause. Abortion rates for black women are about four times that of white women, and abortion advocates routinely oppose laws designed to prevent abortion based on the sex and race of the child being aborted. Planned Parenthood has 62 percent of its abortion centers strategically placed within two miles of concentrated African American populations.
FiveThirtyEight also launches into a very dubious history lesson: “Declining white birth rates, along with the rising eugenics movement — a now-discredited pseudoscience focused on the genetic fitness of white Americans — were connected to the practice of abortion, and this helped bolster flawed, racist arguments for a total ban of the procedure.” FiveThirtyEight makes no attempt to explain how opposition to euthanasia and abortion would lead to “flawed, racist arguments for a total ban” of abortion, since abortion reduces the black population and euthanasia has historically been a means of targeting minorities and those with disabilities.
The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, spoke to the KKK and was a proponent of euthanasia and birth control, known for her saying, “Eugenics without birth control seems to us a house builded upon the sands. It is at the mercy of the rising stream of the unfit.” In 2020, Planned Parenthood took Margaret Sanger’s name off a New York City facility, and said the move was “the first of many organizational shifts to address Sanger’s legacy and system of institutional racism.”
And while it might be understandable that reporting on an issue as polarizing as abortion would cause reporters to rely on ideologically driven sources, FiveThirtyEight resorts to fringe voices such as “the co-founder of the Institute for Research on Male Supremacism.”
Finally, in a key paragraph, the authors seem to admit that the premise of their own article is contradictory and incoherent:
Even on its own terms, though, the logic of tying the anti-abortion movement to the racist great replacement theory is deeply convoluted — and downright inaccurate. For instance, fewer women are seeking abortions, and women of color — particularly those who are Black — are more likely than white women to seek an abortion.
“This idea that they are writing about the nation, that the fight over abortion rights is somehow tied to great replacement theory — there’s just no evidence for in what they’ve written,” Dr. James Sherley, stem cell biologist and associate scholar of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told The Federalist. “If you look at all of the causes of deaths for African Americans, that rate is still less than all the deaths due to abortions — so abortion is the number one killer of black people in America. That just really flies in the face of this article by FiveThirtyEight.”
“It’s just really a terrible article,” he added. “It’s a random assortment of random observations.”