“Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. ... And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won't exploit people, we won't trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won't kill anybody."
These words, spoken by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a Christmas sermon a little more than 50 years ago, resound as forcefully today as they did when delivered during the height of the civil rights movement. That’s because they speak to a desire within each of us: a yearning for what King called the "beloved community," a place like the kingdom of God where love is the law.
As we celebrate the birth and life of Dr. King, and in a few months, the 50th anniversary of his death, we need to reflect on how love — the guiding force in Uncle M.L.’s life — should lead us today. In our age when the human race is divided into groups that are then pitted against one another for political or other selfish gains, love will unify. In our time when we are told that each of us, in some manner or form, is being oppressed by someone else, love will teach us that we need to examine our own actions and attitudes as well as those of others.
Dr. King would tell us that to end discrimination and violence in our culture, we must end it in ourselves. We do that by loving each other. And loving each other necessarily means that we treat others as we want to be treated.
As a starting point, we can love each other right now by affirming that each of us has a right to exist.
In our statement, “The Beloved Community and the Unborn,” we and other leaders in the movement to extend civil rights to our most oppressed minority, babies in the womb, note that nonviolence is not nonviolence if some violence is still tolerated. And the violence still most tolerated in our society is abortion.
Just as many white Americans were appalled in the 1950s and 1960s when they finally realized the extent to which African Americans were not just unprotected, but actually brutalized by authorities, many of us today may be shocked to learn that healthy unborn babies carried by healthy mothers in the United States are being legally aborted well beyond the time they can survive outside the womb.
And just as consciences were raised in the 1950s and 60s by photographs and television coverage of black men, women, and children being attacked with clubs, chains, and firehoses, Americans are seeing the truth of late-term abortion through today’s media.
Priests for Life, the organization which we both serve full-time, has commissioned dozens of phone calls placed to abortion clinics across the country. In each call, a woman says she is anywhere from 22 to 32 weeks pregnant, is healthy with a healthy baby, and wants to schedule an abortion. In each call, she is told by someone at an abortion facility that there’s no problem and that they will terminate her child — sometimes saying they can begin the procedure the next day. The phone calls can be heard online here.
The question of late-term abortion is one that unites Americans in opposition to the practice. A recent poll taken on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill to protect from abortion almost all unborn babies of 20 weeks or more gestation, shows that 62 percent of likely voters support the measure and only 25 percent oppose it. That bill, which has already been approved by the House, and which President Trump supports, is now before the Senate.
We disapprove of late-term abortion because, as more and more of us learn that children in the womb are human beings, not the “clusters of cells” or “blobs of tissue” the abortion industry would have us believe, we cannot help but love those tiny humans. We see in ultrasound images not just little boys and girls, we see ourselves. If we haven’t already, we will soon realize that humanity is not conferred when we cross the border of the womb, but when we are conceived.
As long as abortion remains legal, the Declaration of Independence will remain — as King called it a half-century ago when speaking of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for African Americans — “a declaration of intent rather than of reality.” We can make the Declaration of Independence a reality for all Americans, born and unborn, by finally realizing that love overcomes fear. And love will lead us to the Beloved Community, where “we won’t exploit people, we won’t trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won’t kill anybody.”
Alveda King (@AlvedaCKing) and Frank Pavone (@frfrankpavone) are contributors to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. King is the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn at Priests for Life and the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. Pavone is the national director of Priests for Life.
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