Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Mayfield residents upset over anti-Houck fliers
Some members of Fredericksburg’s black community are upset over campaign fliers they say unfairly link state Sen. Edd Houck to racism.
Rev. Lawrence Davies, a former city mayor, said he was “outraged” when he saw the flier with the headline “Would you support killing African-American babies?”
The flier, apparently passed out in the Mayfield neighborhood over the weekend, comes from No Excuse Ministry, run by Fredericksburg resident Terry Beatley. Beatley is a parental-rights and anti-abortion activist who has been working this fall to oust Houck, based on his votes in the state Senate on bills related to abortion and parental rights.
This particular flier says that Margaret Sanger, an early advocate of birth control whose work led to the founding of Planned Parenthood, was a racist who gave talks to the Ku Klux Klan, and that Planned Parenthood puts abortion clinics in black neighborhoods “not by accident.”
The flier says that Houck is supported by Planned Parenthood and that voters in the 17th state Senate district should vote against Houck and “save our children from the abortion industry’s agenda.”
Davies said he was particularly upset by the flier’s headline.
“What is it that they say in here that indicates the person who supports Sen. Houck would be killing African-American babies?” Davies said.
He said he’s never heard of a “black genocide agenda” from Planned Parenthood.
“I don’t know of any abortion facilities in the black neighborhoods here,” Davies added.
Sanger’s work in the early 20th century to introduce birth control in African-American communities has been controversial, and is the root of accusations that she was a racist and that Planned Parenthood is racist. Anti-abortion groups also often point to Sanger’s support for certain aspects of the eugenics movement as evidence that Planned Parenthood is racist. Pro-choice groups say their opponents misconstrue Sanger’s views and actions.
The fliers have been circulated around black neighborhoods, and Davies said they’re getting a mixed reaction, a sentiment echoed by Mayfield resident Marguerite Young.
“Some of them are just as outraged as I am. They feel that they’re baseless and a smear tactic, really,” Davies said. “And especially they are concerned about this black genocide talk. … (But) I think some people are going to accept it as true, and that’s what’s concerning me.”
As a result, Davies invited Houck to speak at his church.
“I told him I felt like the people needed to know that he was not the ogre that this flier is projecting or showing him to be. They need to see that he is human,” he said.
Houck faces Republican Bryce Reeves in next week’s election. Reeves has said in the past that he is not connected to Beatley’s fliers, and that while he is pro-life, he is focused on talking about economic issues.
Beatley’s fliers — both this one and past ones that focused more on Houck’s votes — detail a laundry list of votes on abortion, family-values issues and parental rights. She has said that while she is staunchly pro-life, her issue with Houck lies more in his votes to kill bills that would have given parents greater control over their children’s actions, including bills to require parental notification or consent for girls under 18 to take the “morning-after” pill; bills to require parental notification if their underage children receive medical attention; and a bill to require parental notification of which school clubs children join.