One of my childhood heroes was Dr. Martin Luther King. In my study I still have a battered copy of his paperback “Why We Can’t Wait” – which set out his opposition to institutionalized racism along with the case for the civil rights movement.� His writing and his speeches â most famously “I have a Dream” â changed hearts and minds, while his bloody assassination shocked a docile world into finally challenging racial discrimination. H once wrote from his prison cell that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Civil Rights, Human Dignity and Faith:
“The civil rights movement of today is the pro-life movement”
By Dr. Alveda King
PNCI Special Representative for Human Dignity
June 23, 2010
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity
Palace of Westminster, London
Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s truly an honor and privilege to speak to you today. Being with you and
knowing of your concern for human dignity, I feel most at home. This morning it
was such a privilege to visit Westminster Abbey and see the stone statue above the
West Entrance immortalizing my uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr. for his great work
for justice. This is indeed an honor for the entire King family.
I would like to extend my special thanks to Lord David Alton for his kind
invitation to address you today and for his leadership in organizing and launching
the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity. Human dignity is at the
core of all human rights and I congratulate Lord Alton for his commitment and
dedication to respect for the life of all. I look forward to the launch of the US
House Caucus on Human Dignity next January in Washington, D. C. by my good
friend Congressman Chris Smith.
When I accepted the invitation to come and address you, I decided I was morally
obligated to concentrate on the area where human dignity and life itself has been
systematically rejected by some in society for an entire class of individuals—
unborn children. During the course of my remarks today I will share with you my
personal experiences and I apologize if these remarks are considered too direct. I
hope they do not offend anyone; they are not intended to do so.
But for me, human dignity cannot be discussed in the abstract. The struggle for
civil rights and human dignity has impacted my life in so many ways. The message
I share comes from my heart, from love of life and family, and from an inherited
sense of duty to defend the most vulnerable in society.
My talk today and my work as a civil rights activist are based on three very simple
that every human being is worthy of respect by virtue of his being
that at no time does anyone’s life become less human or more
that each human life begins at its physical beginning
As a result of these three propositions, every single human being, born or unborn,
has rights and those rights should be respected by society and protected under law.
Repentance is the first step in a soul being saved; it’s also the first step in a culture
I know this because I have seen my culture, my America, change in my lifetime.
When I was a girl, one of my schoolmates was killed by a bomb as she entered a
Birmingham, Alabama church. Later, in the same city, my family’s home was fire
bombed. When my daddy moved to Louisville, Kentucky, his church office was
bombed. My uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered on a Memphis
balcony. And my father, the Rev. A.D. King, was found dead in his swimming
pool a year later at our home under suspicious circumstances. He was only 38.
All of this, and so much more bloodshed and heartache, happened because some
people in the United States thought that African Americans were not worthy of
We were spat upon. We were told to go to the back of the bus. We were deemed
unworthy to eat or drink with others. We were clubbed and beaten. And we were
We were killed because we were regarded as less than fully human.
So it is with the lives of unborn babies – who are womb-lynched – today.
But racism not only oppressed African Americans, it seared the consciences of the
oppressors. People found that the fabrications of racists made their own lives more
comfortable, more convenient, and they became invested in those falsehoods.
They depended on those falsehoods. And so they believed, what they knew in
their hearts to be untrue.
So it is with the lies of abortionists today.
Today’s unborn are yesterday’s blacks – best kept out of sight and out of mind lest
they remind us of the injustices we commit.
The problem for abortionists and their supporters, though, is the same problem
racists and segregationists faced… reality.
Just like those “uppity” African Americans who wouldn’t sit at the back of the bus
or eat at the “blacks only” lunch counter, unborn babies won’t go away.
So the work of the abortion industry has been to deny the humanity of those they
exploit and discriminate against.
But what if, like the Texas abortion clinic director who recently quit her job when
she saw the ultrasound image of the baby she was helping to abort, we can no
longer rationalize away what we’ve been doing all these years? What if the truth
becomes so clear and so compelling that society simply can’t go on being
indifferent or complicit in the big lie?
Well, that’s when we have to do what is against our nature – we have to humble
ourselves, admit our wrongs and change our ways.
And that, in fact, is what my country did because of the civil rights movement.
Not everybody in the United States was a racist, but racism was enforced by law in
some parts of the country and tolerated in others. Americans, who perhaps didn’t
discriminate against blacks themselves, somehow felt that while racism was
wrong, it didn’t really affect their lives. They didn’t need to care that much about
people they thought were different, so they didn’t get involved.
They didn’t care, that is, until they saw innocent African Americans attacked with
police dogs and fire hoses. They didn’t change their minds until they saw the faces
of those whose crime was to want to eat lunch at a table with others or ride a bus
seated in the front. And they didn’t get involved until the truth of racism’s
inhumanity was unavoidable.
America changed because Americans were touched in their hearts – hearts that the
Bible tells us are inscribed with God’s law. We can try to deny our consciences,
indoctrinate or medicate our minds so that we can’t or won’t think, but a sense of
right and wrong has been given to each and every one of us. It is that very moral
awareness that changed America’s culture on racism.
I believe it is that same moral awareness that can change any culture on abortion.
It won’t happen overnight. But it is already happening.
One of the U.S.’s most respected polling companies, Gallup, confirms in its last
three polls taken over a 12-month period that, for the first time since its polling
began, more Americans now call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” Gallup
calls this historic switch in numbers “the new normal” in abortion polling.
I believe that it’s not by accident that more Americans are calling themselves prolife;
more people are looking at ultrasound images of their children.
Ultrasound images of unborn babies today are like the photographed and televised
images of blacks being beaten in the 1960s. They reveal the humanity of those
deemed less than human.
And it’s not just happy parents who are viewing these ultrasounds.
Probably the biggest trend in American state law the last few years has been the
requirement that a woman be offered the chance to see an ultrasound image of her
child before consenting to an abortion; not forced to look at the ultrasound, mind
you, just be offered the opportunity to look if she wants. Some of the 22 states
with ultrasound requirements don’t even require that an ultrasound scan be done,
only that a woman be told she can have one if she wants.
You would think from listening to the pro-abortion people who protest against
these laws that the sky was falling.
Just as racist mobs in the South smashed photographers’ cameras to keep people
from seeing the victims of their violence, abortionists and their apologists fight
today to keep people from seeing the victims of their violence. But like the vivid
photos of beaten and broken African Americans who were protesting for their
lives, the ultrasound images of babies before they’ve been beaten and broken will
testify to their humanity and victimhood. The images will at least allow the babies
to tell people, “I’m here. Please don’t harm me.”
I can tell you with all my heart that I wish ultrasounds had been around in the early
I stand before you today as the mother of six living children, one miscarried, and
My first abortion was involuntary. It was just before the Roe v. Wade decision that
struck down every state law on abortion. I went to my doctor because I had not
resumed my normal period after the birth of my first child. He said, “You don’t
need to be pregnant. Let’s see.” He proceeded to perform a painful examination
that I later learned was a type of surgical abortion called a Dilation and
Curettage (D&C). Having no understanding of medical terms, I didn’t realize that
my baby was dead.
Of course, my lack of knowledge didn’t prevent me from experiencing the affects
of post-abortion trauma, both physical and emotional. My body was sore; I
developed depression and weight problems. I became argumentative and my
young husband didn’t know what to do. We quarreled a lot and finally divorced.
My second abortion was voluntary. My ex-husband and I attempted reconciliation.
I became pregnant. He was not pleased. Even though he’s now pro-life, back then
there was pressure to abort and the threat of violence. I went to Planned
Parenthood. They told me that my baby wasn’t a baby. They called him a blob of
tissue. They said the procedure would hurt no more than having a tooth removed
and that my insurance would pay for it.
I went to the hospital.
After I awoke from the abortion, I knew that something was very wrong. I felt
very sick and very empty. I tried to talk to the doctor and nurses about it, but they
assured me that “it will all go away in a few days. You will be fine.”
It did hurt; it didn’t go away; and I wasn’t fine.
Over the ensuing years, I experienced medical problems. I had trouble bonding
with my son and his five siblings who were born after the abortions. I again
suffered from eating disorders and depression, but now there were nightmares,
sexual dysfunctions, and a host of other issues.
I believe my miscarriage was caused by the abortions as well. New medical studies
are demonstrating an increased risk of miscarriage, as well as low birth weight and
prematurity, to babies born to women who have had previously aborted.
And so I learned the hard way. Abortion was not the answer to my problem. It
was the problem.
I also learned that other women were dealing with the same or similar physical and
emotional after effects of abortion.
While I thought I was alone, of course, I wasn’t. Not only were there countless
other women going through what I was going through, the Lord was with me. I
thank God for leading me to the Christ centered ministry of Rachel’s Vineyard
where I received counsel for the guilt and depression I was carrying. At Rachel’s
Vineyard, I came to know God’s forgiveness; it was where my journey back to true
freedom in Jesus Christ began.
Today, I’m a spokeswoman for a group called the Silent No More Awareness
Campaign. Started in 2003, we are the world’s largest network of women and men
– yes, men, too – harmed by abortion. We are those who regret our abortions, our
lost motherhood and fatherhood, and our lost children. We are those who listened
to the lies of the abortion industry and believed that our babies weren’t really
I see absolutely no difference between the denial of rights to people because of
their skin color and the denial of rights to people because of their age or condition
There is no doubt – the pro-life movement is the civil rights movement of our
century—the right of every one of every race to live.
Abortion, like racial discrimination, is an assault on human dignity. Sex-selective
abortion, especially in China and India, targets precious baby girls for death simply
because they are female. There are over 40 million missing girls in China alone,
victims of sex selective abortion. Where is the world’s outrage against this
discrimination? Don’t think this practice is not lurking on our own horizon.
The Economist magazine recently estimated that the victims of Gendercide around
the world number approximately 100 million. I know that my friends, Nirj Deva,
beside me on the podium today, and Gay Mitchell, began trying to raise awareness
in the European Parliament of the issue of Gendercide three years ago already. I
hope that members of this All-Party Group will similarly work to eliminate the
scourge of Gendercide – it is particularly prevalent in Developing Countries – and
to ensure the human dignity of girls and women.
The largest abortion business in the U.S. is Planned Parenthood. It was founded by
Margaret Sanger, a woman who had as one of her mottos, “More children from the
fit, less from the unfit.” Like Britain’s Marie Stopes, she was an enthusiastic
eugenicist. She worked for the elimination of what she called “human weeds”
from the population.
Margaret Sanger had no problem speaking to a rally of the Ku Klux Klan, the
group that used to lynch blacks. She wrote that aboriginal Australians were “the
lowest known species of the human family” and were “just a step higher than the
chimpanzee in brain development.”
I think we can say that Margaret Sanger was not a champion of diversity.
But does an overtly racist past mean that the abortion industry is racist today?
Let’s consider the evidence.
Three years ago, seven Planned Parenthood offices in seven different states agreed
to accept donations from a man who said he wanted his money to be used to abort
only black babies. When the man, whose calls were all recorded, said “the less
black babies out there, the better,” a Planned Parenthood worker laughed and said,
“Understandable, understandable.” No Planned Parenthood office declined the
I should state here that when I mention that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be
pro-life today, there are those who say that he accepted an award from Planned
Parenthood in 1966. To this I say: This is a manipulation of the truth. The award
was given to Uncle Martin before Planned Parenthood went public with its
abortion campaign. Uncle Martin did not personally accept that award; nor did he
write the words that were read when his wife accepted it.
Uncle Martin was murdered five years before the Roe v. Wade decision. In no
way would he approve of an organization that came to be America’s largest
abortion business, especially one that targets blacks.
Dr. Edward Allred owns the largest chain of for-profit abortion mills in California.
He is credited, if that’s the word, with creating the assembly line abortion business,
where women never see a doctor until they’re on the operating table. One of his
supporters said he did for abortions what McDonalds did for hamburgers. He has
made himself a multi-millionaire by taking babies’ lives. Aside from money, what
were his motives?
Well, in 1980, Dr. Allred was quoted in the San Diego Union newspaper as saying,
“Population control is too important to be stopped by some right wing pro-life
types. Take the new influx of Hispanic immigrants. Their lack of respect for
democracy and social order is frightening. I hope I can do something to stem that
tide; I’d set up a clinic in Mexico for free if I could.”
In the United States today, African Americans are 12-to-13 percent of the
population, yet black women have 37 percent of all abortions. When dramatic
racial disparities like that appeared in the areas of employment and education, it
was enough to conclude that institutionalized racism and discrimination were
present in our corporations and colleges. Why should we apply a different
standard to the abortion industry?
Abortion cheapens life.
In our hearts, we know this. For too long, though, we have looked the other way.
We have not wanted to get involved. We have convinced ourselves that people
will never change when it comes to abortion.
I’m here to tell you that this is not true. I have seen change, in myself, in others,
and in my nation. What happened with slavery and racism is now happening with
This summer I will join with civil rights activists, clergy from many religious
backgrounds led by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and pro-life advocates to
board a bus and travel throughout the Southern United States for Pro-Life Freedom
Rides. We will drive the roads that the Freedom Riders of almost 50 years ago
rode to help America see the inhumanity of discrimination. We will ride to help
more Americans understand that abortion is not a right, but a trampling of others’
I have to tell you that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity
Working Group on Human Dignity is an enormous encouragement. I’m hopeful
that we can have an ongoing dialogue on the recognition and protection of what we
all possess from the moment of conception – our dignity and inherent value.
For like our dignity and inherent value, our right to live does not come from any
government. It is something we are given by God, our Creator. The U.S.
Declaration of Independence states it so beautifully, “We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness.”
Likewise, the United Nations in 1948 issued the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights which recognized the basic rights of women and men. The Preamble states:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable
rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice
and peace in the world”.
Here in Parliament, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity will play an
important role to clarify that governments cannot create rights since these rights
are not theirs to give or to deny. The Universal Declaration of Human Dignity
states this so clearly, and I quote “…the dignity of Man, and the state-conferred
human rights that recognise this dignity, proceeds from the image and likeness of
God which is within us…whilst international charters may recognise certain rights
arising out of human dignity, no-one should dare to presume that such charters can
ever in themselves be the source of such rights…”
Governments can respect or disrespect the inherent rights of all members of the
human family regardless of sex, race, nationality, stage of development or
condition of dependency. And while governments cannot create rights,
governments around the world must be vigilant to protect the rights of all people.
Those in power who can speak up for the persecuted must do so, we are our
brothers’ keeper and what happens to him, happens to us.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from a jail cell, “[i]njustice anywhere is a threat
to justice everywhere.” Whether a child is aborted in Birmingham, Alabama or
Birmingham, England, that abortion is an assault on what my Uncle Martin called
the Beloved Community; a place where, as it says in the Book of Amos: “justice
rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
My Uncle Martin had a dream. He dreamt that we would live out that which is
self-evident – that all men are created equal. He called on America to admit our
wrongs and turn from them.
Today, I call on all of us, regardless of nationality, race or religion, to admit our
wrongs and turn from them. I believe that the denial of the right to life is the
greatest injustice we face in the world today. There is no compassion in killing.
There is no justice in writing people out of the human race.
Uncle Martin’s dream is that we one day would all join together and sing the words
of the old African American spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God
almighty, we are free at last!”
I only ask: How can such a dream live on—the dream of equality for all— if we
kill our children? How can the dream live on if we deny others their basic human
dignity and respect?
How can the dream live on if we do not act on their behalf?
Thank you for establishing the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Dignity
Working and I pray for its success in promoting the dream of equality and respect
for human dignity.
PNCI is an outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries
So, when I was recently asked to chair a meeting to be addressed at Westminster by his niece, Dr.Alveda King, I felt specially privileged.
Dr.King spoke powerfully about what she called “the new civil rights movement”. As a mother of six children, who also had two abortions, which she came to deeply regret, she says: “Like my uncle Martin, I also have a passion for justice. And I see the cause of the unborn through the vision of justice Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. laid out, half a century ago.
” I see absolutely no difference between the denial of rights to people because of their skin colour and the denial of rights to people because of their age or condition of dependency. There is no doubt â the pro life movement is the civil rights movement of our century â the right of every one of every race to live.”
Tellingly, Dr.King also pointed out that a black woman in the US is five times more likely than a white woman to have an abortion. Another civil rights leader, Jesse Jackson, once called abortion “black genocide” believing, like Dr.King, that the abortion industry is driven by racists and eugenicists.
Ultimately, though, Dr. King says that although “abortion targets people of colour disproportionately, it affects everyone…it is a direct attack on human dignity.”
Of course, this is not a new battle.
In the Roman Empire unwanted babies were “exposed” and left to die. Our degraded view of the intrinsic life of every person is little better. Our mother’s wombs have become a truly dangerous place to be.
And what is it we permit through our laws and our indifference?
Abortion does not just cause pain and take the life of an unborn child. It desensitises the nurses and doctors who undertake them. It affects fathers who often force women to abort their babies and it deeply affects the psychological and physical well-being of women.
The phrase “safe abortion” is the ultimate oxymoron. All abortionâlegal or illegalâis unsafe for children and hurts women physically and psychologically. Medical data strongly suggests that induced abortion significantly raises the risk of premature and low birth weight children born to women who have earlier undergone abortion.
Studies increasingly demonstrate that induced abortion is a risk factor for breast cancer, especially for young women. Abortion can lead to serious psychological disorders and long term feelings of depression, guilt and grief.
Today, parliamentarians have to contend with laws which result in countless lives never being destroyed by abortion and infanticideâand lives taken before their time through euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Claims of “overpopulation” are re-emerging in developing countries with the view “abortion is necessary for development and sustainability” while predictions of aging populations carry warnings to governments to devise new policies and programmes to care for the elderly â although, ironically, the position of the elderly in those countries will be made far worse because of the absence through abortion of many of the children who would have cared for them.
Remarkable advances in science and medicine have led to vast improvements in the treatment of disease, disabilities, palliative care, the mitigation of pain and suffering, and increased life expectancy. However, along with modern medical progress come a myriad of serious ethical questions and concerns. Parliamentarians and others must ask tough ethical questions about the ramifications to human dignity. Just because something can be done, should it? What are the ethical boundaries? Do the ends justify the means?
It is not enough to simply say we are against abortion, embryo experimentation, cloning or euthanasia. We must fearlessly oppose a culture of death but also use our resources and energy to actively promote a humane alternative: a culture of life – from the womb to the tomb, for the mother and the child, for the sick and the dying, for good medicine, ethical science, and just laws.
We must provide practical help for women who feel they are left with “no choice”; we must make provision through hospices for the care of the sick and dying; we must seek ethical alternatives for the cure of debilitating diseases; and we must always challenge the wholesale destruction of life. We can take political action to uphold the pro-life ethic. The Jewish Rabbi was right when he said that “The person who saves a single life saves the world”.
Parliamentarians have a duty to protect the rights of the most vulnerable in society. Parliamentarians who believe in the intrinsic value of human life can boldly and prudently use their strategic positions to advance a deep and abiding respect in law for the dignity of all members of the human family.
Dr.Alveda King reminded our Westminster politicians that “My Uncle Martin had a dream…I only ask: How can such a dream live on â the dream of equality for all â if we kill our children? How can the dream live on if we deny others their basic human dignity and respect? How can the dream live on if we do not act on their behalf?”
In a country where we routinely abort 600 unborn babies every working day â around seven million abortions since it was made legal â Dr.King was right to challenge our docility and to urge us to act on their behalf.
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