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 22, 2010
Working Group on Human Dignity
in the European Parliament
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.
We are kindred spirits.
I would like to extend my special thanks to Gay Mitchell for his kind
invitation to address you today and for his leadership of the Working Group
on Human Dignity; and to the European Conservatives and Reformists Group
through Nirj Deva for generously agreeing to sponsor this meeting. In
my advocacy work in the United States, I have co-hosted similar events on
Capitol Hill with Members of Congress and thank all of you for taking the
time from your busy schedules to be here today.
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 truths –
- that every human being is worthy
of respect by virtue of his being human;
- that at no time does anyone’s life become
less human or more human; and
- that each human life begins at its physical
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 being changed.
I know this because I have seen my culture, my America, change in my
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
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 lynched.
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
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
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
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 pro-life; more people are looking at ultrasound images of their
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 1970s.
I stand before you today as the mother of six living children, one
miscarried, and two aborted.
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
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 babies.
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 of dependency.
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 Members
of Parliament Gay Mitchell and Nirj Deva, beside me on the podium today,
began trying to raise awareness in this House of the issue of Gendercide
three years ago already. I hope that members of this Working Group on Human
Dignity will 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 racist donations.
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
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
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
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 abortion.
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’ rights.
I have to tell you that the Working Group on Human Dignity here at the
European Parliament 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 at the European Parliament, your Working Group plays 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
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
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
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 the work of the Working Group on Human Dignity at the European
Parliament and I pray for success in establishing similar working groups
around the world to secure the dream of equality and respect for human
PNCI is an outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries