“As much as I believe with all my heart about the killing, the taking of innocent lives, I also believe that I will never support giving white legislators who have no interest in our community the ability to tell our women what they can do with their bodies,” Mr. Stancil said of sweeping abortion restrictions recently approved in Missouri.

In many black communities, the abortion debate is inextricably tied to race in ways that white communities seldom confront. Social and economic disparities that are particularly challenging to African-Americans, from mass incarceration to maternal and infant mortality, are crucial parts of that discussion.

The best way to reduce abortions, many black people both for and against the practice argue, is to address the difficult circumstances that lead so many black women to end their pregnancies. Abortions have dropped over the last 15 years among all racial groups. But black women continue to have the highest abortion rate at 27.1 per 1,000 women compared with 10 per 1,000 for white women, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.