Alveda King said she has heard some in the pro-life movement condemning the mothers who have abortions as murderers who need to go to jail.
“I say, ‘My god, I hope it’s not retroactive,’” King told a crowd of more than 700 people at the Dubuque County Right to Life L.I.F.E. dinner tonight.
King, a nationally-known pro-life activist and the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., told the crowd that a better way to protest against abortions is to do so without condemning people. She said she has had two abortions, but was “reborn” in 1983 and became a supporter of the pro-life movement.
“Let there be room at the cross for everyone,” King said.
King was the keynote speaker Friday for the Right to Life banquet at the Grand River Center. The Dubuque County Right to Life hosts the annual gala – now in its 23rdyear -- as part of a fundraising effort for the organization.
King said she and her first husband already had a son when she said she let her husband convince her to get an abortion on their second pregnancy. Her next pregnancy also was aborted, and she said she suffered a miscarriage on her third from health issues.
King said this was before abortion had been legalized, and the procedures were secretly handled with doctors and not talked about in public.
She said after she divorced her husband, she became pregnant again and decided to go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, but her grandfather, Martin Luther King Sr., talked her out of it.
“He said, ‘Baby, they’re lying to you. That’s not a lump of flesh, that’s my great-grandchild,’” Alveda King said.
She said it was a similar talk he had with Alveda King’s mother, Naomi Barber King, as she became pregnant while still engaged to Alfred Daniel Williams King and she was considering getting a “procedure.” Alveda King was her parents’ first-born child, and she said Martin Luther King Sr. saved her.
King shared her memories of being involved with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s with her father, Alfred Daniel Williams King, and her uncle, Martin Luther King Jr. Alveda King called the pro-life movement a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement.
“Abortion is not a civil right, life is a civil right,” she said.
King said she as she heard about the work done by the Dubuque County Right to Life, she was invigorated by the amount of enthusiasm and participation she has seen, especially among younger people.
Marian Bourek, executive director of Dubuque County Right to Life, said the organization was very excited to have King come and speak at Friday’s event. She said the event was completely booked and they started a waiting list for possible cancellations.
“We’re a civil rights organization, and it seemed like such a great tie-in,” Bourek said. “It’s time to be saying that the right to life is a civil rights issue.”
King closed her speech with a nod to the violence and protests over police use of force in Ferguson, Mo., New York and Baltimore. She said it’s appropriate to demonstrate for a cause peacefully, like they did during the Civil Rights Movement.
“Love never fails,” King said.