Controversial anti-abortion billboard in SoHo

February 23, 2011 3:23:37 PM PST
A three-story high controversial billboard was unveiled in SoHo Tuesday night.

The innocent young girl grabs your attention first, then the anti-abortion caption sinks in: "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb".

Some pedestrians along 6th Avenue and Watts Street in SoHo expressed their outrage.

"It is tasteless. It's just crazy. It pisses me off right now, you know, it's just not right," said Rich Ledbetter, a pedestrian.

"I am shocked and appalled, seriously, I am," said Evonne Pearson, a pedestrian.

The group behind the billboard, "Life Always", says it's designed to get your attention and raise awareness about the high abortion rate among black women.

The activists also accuse Planned Parenthood of targeting minority neighborhoods.

"Black women do not believe they have an option other than abortion. We want that to be challenged and this is our own statement to the community," said Rev. Stephen Broden, of "Life Always".

Planned Parenthood responded, calling the accusations and the billboard: " offensive and condescending effort to stigmatize and shame African American women while attempting to discredit the work of Planned Parenthood."

New York City Councilwoman Leticia James agrees and is among the local leaders calling for the billboard to come down.

"Singling out African Americans during Black History Month is particularly offensive and to equate it with genocide and terrorism is really offensive to all New Yorkers and all Americans," Councilwoman James said.

But, "Life Always" insists it's not targeting black Americans, just abortions.

The jarring nature of its campaign gets the message across.

"Our aim is to make abortion rare. Our aim is to give women alternatives," said Rev. Michael Faulkner, of "Life Always".

"Life Always" says despite calls that it be taken down, the billboard will stay up for at least three weeks, then it will be taken to other major cities.

The city's public advocate calls the billboard "grossly offensive".