Recently resurfaced 2015 remarks made by the CEO of the anti-choice nonprofit Obria Group demonstrate that the organization may be pressing its abortion agenda in the broader pursuit of white nationalism.
Obria head Kathleen Eaton Bravo reportedly made the comments to the Catholic World Report that come from factually false and fascistic notions that white Christians are being “replaced” by people of other ethnicities and religions.
This year, the Trump administration gave Obria a “family planning” grant of up to $5.1 million under Title X, a major boost for an organization that has lately been selling its anti-choice services to hip millennials. Obria has been explicit about its desire to replace Planned Parenthood by offering, it claims, medical services such as “well-woman” exams and ultrasounds for pregnant people. Bravo has even claimed that Obria provides “abortion reversals”—a nonexistent and dangerous pseudo-treatment that claims to stop and reverse medication abortions.
Obria’s mission to reduce abortions is alarming in and of itself, but the remarks Bravo made in 2015 shed more light on why exactly she (and likely Obria itself under her leadership) are motivated to stop abortions. “Few realize that it has had a devastating impact on our society, and threatens our culture’s survival,” Bravo reportedly told Catholic World Report, according to the Guardian. Hate-mongering against Muslims, Bravo continued: “Take the example of Europe. When its nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing.”
Her commentary is straight from a fascist doctrine known as “replacement theory” or “white genocide” favored by white nationalists the world over, including Brenton Tarrant, who’s accused of killing dozens of Muslims at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March. Replacement theory falsely posits that white people are being intentionally “replaced” by other ethnicities through interracial marriage, immigration, racial integration, and abortion. Those who believe that “white genocide” actually exists place the blame for this completely baseless, deeply racist and misogynistic conspiracy theory on Jews, as is typical for white nationalist conspiracy theories.
The theory of so-called white genocide was popularized by David Lane, a prominent American neo-Nazi and member of The Order (the group responsible for the 1984 murder of the Jewish radio host Alan Berg) in the mid-1990s. The theory has been taken up as a core component of fascist belief, propaganda, and organizing around the world and is championed by white nationalists, including Richard Spencer, who helped organize the violent and deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia two years ago, and former head of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke.
Bravo’s 2015 comments place her in these men’s ideological company; the organization she runs is currently enjoying millions of government dollars awarded by the Trump administration.
This incident is far from the only anti-choice element that appears to be comfortably nestled in the racist far right. As my colleague Erin Corbett and I reported for Rewire News in December 2018, U.S. fascist cells have long found common cause with the “pro-life” movement and in fact fascists are fond of trying to recruit pro-lifers into full-blown white nationalism.
A member of the now-defunct neo-Nazi cell Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), for example, discussed their plans to recruit “normies”—people without radical political beliefs—by appealing to “traditional” family values, which translates to an anti-abortion agenda. “Normie right-wingers who defend the family or oppose abortion or whatever are indirectly our allies,” the TWP member posted to the group’s private Discord message board in the spring of 2017. Another member wrote in the same message board that the annual “March for Life” was boosted by white nationalism.
The idea that fascists could gain ground by insinuating themselves within the anti-choice movement has had several other recent manifestations, both online and offline.
For example, the TWP showed up to an anti-abortion protest in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2018; the fascist cell Patriot Front made its (relatively small but still threatening) presence known at March for Life in Chicago last year as well; and anti-abortion conservative commentator Ben Shapiro infamously defended “baby Hitler” at the main March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., in January (the same event where MAGA-hatted teens went viral after standing off with Indigenous elders).
Apparent neo-Nazis are facing a lawsuit from the National Network of Abortion Funds and some of their partner organizations after the group’s annual Bowl-a-thon fundraiser was spammed with white supremacist messages in 2016.
Both white nationalism and anti-abortion projects in general have gained significant boosts under President Trump, whose own reactionary views have both enabled legislation that attacks already marginalized groups, including those who need abortions, and, experts have argued, inspired deadly attacks often targeting Muslims and Jewish people. Bravo’s apparent alignment with baseless claims of “white genocide” make her not an outlier but the standard sort of person the current administration would tend to support.
That Obria, an organization that seeks to prevent abortions, makes claims of being able to “reverse” abortions, and whose leader has touted a common white nationalist conspiracy theory should mean it has no business enjoying $5 million of federal grant money. However, it is the exact type of organization that anyone would expect the adamantly misogynist and racist Trump administration to get behind.