Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece: abortion not a civil right

Michael Vick
Catholic San Francisco
Document Publication: Catholic Voice - Oakland, CA

Publication Date: February 04, 2008

Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a leader in the pro-life movement, says abortion is not a civil right. If her uncle had lived, King said, he would also be championing the cause of the unborn.

“My uncle said, ‘The Negro cannot win if he’s willing to sacrifice his own children for immediate comfort and safety,’” King told Catholic San Francisco. “He also said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ Abortion is unjust.”

King was in the Bay Area as a keynote speaker for the 4th annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, Jan. 19. She also spoke during the March for Life in Washington, Jan. 22, to offer personal testimony about her experience with abortion. She and other women stood outside the Supreme Court with signs expressing their regret for having an abortion.

King said her pro-life stance was born of hardship. Her first pregnancy ended in an abortion performed by a doctor without her consent. Depressions and changes in her behavior stemming from that first abortion led King to terminate her second pregnancy in 1973. Abortion had been legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier that year on Jan. 22, ironically her birthday.

In 1983, King experienced a transformation, committing her life to Jesus and repenting her past actions. Since then, she has been deeply involved in the pro-life movement.

“I confessed to having killed my own children,” King said. “I began to come to grips with how I had hurt my body and spirit.”

King, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, said that while a woman has the right to choose what she does with her own body, the child that grows inside her is not an extension of that body, but rather a separate person altogether.

She said the African American community remains strongly pro-life, and that as more people become educated on the topic, the strength of that movement grows.

“Many people are not aware of the genocidal influence of abortion,” King said. “As soon as they become aware, they become pro-life.”

According to Vicki Evans, coordinator of Respect Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, nearly 36 percent of U.S. abortions are done on black women, “even though minority women comprise only about 13 percent of the female population.” Evans echoed King, calling abortion “genocide.”

Like her uncle, King is a Baptist, but said it is fitting she works closely with Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, one of the Walk for Life West Coast’s 22 sponsors. Recalling her uncle’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, she said Protestants and Catholics should work together to end abortion.

Alveda King said abortion should be a non-partisan issue as well. In 2006, she spoke in Washington, D.C., at the pre-March for Life breakfast for the Democrats for Life of America. DFLA was one of the sponsors of this year’s Walk for Life, along with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the dioceses of Santa Rosa and Oakland, and the Knights of Columbus.

“God’s not a Democrat or a Republican,” King said. “This issue transcends politics. The hearts of all people need to be turned to life. It should not have anything to do with a political position.” If she had the ear of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates, she would have simple advice: “Choose life.”

King holds a master’s degree in business management from Central Michigan University, and an honorary doctorate from St. Anselm College. She said she plans to continue post-graduate studies to earn a doctorate in theology.

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