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Black Christians Debate Abortion as Civil Rights Issue

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By Audrey Barrick, Christian Post Reporter
August 27, 2010|8:22 am

The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is pushing back against fellow African-American Christians who have accused her of hijacking the civil rights movement for her own political agenda – namely to protect the unborn.

"It is absolutely ludicrous that abortion supporters would accuse a blood relative of Dr. King of hijacking the King legacy," Dr. Alveda King said in a statement Thursday. "My dad and my uncle gave their lives to ensure that the day would come when blacks would be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. If they were here, I know they would stand with me in this fight for the lives of those most vulnerable among us."

Her comments were in response to statements made by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at a press conference Thursday. The coalition denounced the "religious right" for "disparaging clinics that provide abortion, birth control and reproductive health services."

"It insults the intelligence and values of African Americans and is offensive to women who make conscientious moral decisions about pregnancy," said the Rev. Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, president and CEO of the coalition.

The coalition also blasted the upcoming Restoring Honor Rally, led by Fox News' Glenn Beck, and Alveda King's "Freedom Rides for the Unborn" event as insulting and contrary to the famed civil rights leader's ideals of justice, freedom and respect for the dignity of all people. The rally is being held Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 47th anniversary of the historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

"The 'Religious Right' and the Tea Party can hold a rally on the anniversary of a time that is sacred in our nation’s march to equality but there is no question that they are not – and never have been – concerned about the African-American community or about the racism, poverty and injustice that Dr. King was dedicated to eradicating," said Veazey.

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According to the Guttmacher Institute, black women are more likely to have an abortion, at rates three to five times the rate of white women. The high abortion rate, however, has been linked to poverty and women of color tend to come from lower-income households.

While pro-life groups argue that the abortion industry is targeting African-American communities, Veazey said the higher abortion rates among black women are directly related to their higher rates of unintended pregnancy and to broader health disparities.

"Persistent reproductive health and health care disparities perpetuate a cycle of poverty and are serious problems for the African-American community. Providing comprehensive sexuality education for youth and expanding family planning and reproductive health care services are proven ways to improve health and life prospects," he said.

"Closing clinics and scaring women and men can only hurt the African-American community."

Meanwhile, Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, believes abortion – especially in the black community – is the greatest civil rights battle of his time.

She questioned the religious convictions of clergy fighting for reproductive rights.

"It's interesting to me to hear so called religious people call us the religious right – but that's okay because they are obviously the complete opposite... they are the religious wrong!" Gardner commented. "Which begs the question: what God, if any, do they serve?"

"As for me, I serve the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac – the great I AM – Father of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and all things created. Those of us who serve the one true God acknowledge we are all made in his image. We bow to God's Word when He says: 'Blessed is the fruit of the womb.' If God says children are a reward, a gift and our heritage, then we must uphold that all children are greatly valuable and desirable to God. So, I ask again, what God do they serve?"

On Saturday, Alveda King will urge Americans to stand with her at the Lincoln Memorial to boycott the abortion industry.

 

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