What Would Martin Luther King, Jr. Have Thought of Abortion?

Opinion   |   Andrew Bair   |   Jan 16, 2012   |   11:24AM   |   Washington, DC

Today our nation commemorates the legacy of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Alveda King, the niece of MLK and a dedicated pro-life advocate, notes her uncle was strongly pro-life.

“Were he alive today, he would be working to secure peace and justice for those in the womb and healing for a nation that is still pained by over 53 million missing lives,” King says. The toll abortion has taken on the African American community is enough to shock the conscience of every American.

According to the US Census Bureau, African Americans comprise 12.4% of the American population; however, over 30% of the nation’s abortions are done on black women. Recently released data from the New York City Department of Health shows the Big Apple hitting a 40% abortion rate. As if that number wasn’t appalling enough, when the data is broken down all racial lines, around 60% percent of New York City’s abortions are done on black women. In other words, 1,448 African American babies are aborted for every 1,000 born. Among black teens in New York City, that number jumps to a staggering 72% abortion rate or 2,360 abortions for every 1,000 babies born.

Right here in Pennsylvania, the Department of Health has reported that in the city of Philadelphia nearly half of all black babies are aborted.

Center for Disease Control data shows that since Roe vs. Wade (1973) abortion has been the leading cause of death among African Americans. More African Americans have lost their lives to abortion than to heart disease, cancer, accidents, violent crimes or AIDS- combined.

African Americans are a prime target of the abortion industry. In analyzing the location of the nation’s abortion centers, some have found a disproportionate number situated in majority-black neighborhoods. One such center was that of Kermit Gosnell, the disgraced abortionist from Philadelphia who is now charged with murder after the deaths of at least two women and seven newborn infants at his facility.

According to the Grand Jury report, the Gosnell abortion business preyed upon low-income black women. These women were subjected to absolutely deplorable conditions. Basic health considerations were ignored and abortions were being performed by unlicensed and even untrained staff using unsanitary surgical instruments. For political reasons, pro-abortion governors permitted the PA Department of Health to cease regular inspections of abortion facilities, thus giving Gosnell a free pass.

It wasn’t until Gosnell was caught running an illegal prescription drug trade that his abortion center was finally raided. The findings were appalling. Newborn infants were found to have been born alive and then killed after birth using scissors. The Grand Jury estimates hundreds of babies met that fate, many of whom were likely African American.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly responded by passing Senate Bill 732, a law intended to increase government oversight of abortion centers. Moments after passage of the bill, State Representative Margo Davidson, an African American lawmaker from Philadelphia, addressed the House chamber. In tears, Rep. Davidson said she was especially grateful for the legislature’s action because her own cousin was one of Gosnell’s victims. She had died from complications from a botched abortion at his Philadelphia facility.

The Gosnell case made national headlines but his business strategy of targeting low-income black women is not an anomaly in the abortion industry. This goes back to the beginning of the modern pro-abortion movement with Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger, an unabashed eugenicist.

Despite its claims otherwise, the pro-abortion movement does a grave disservice to African American women and the greater African American community. Abortion advocates fail black women when they rally against common sense clinic regulations, which could have prevented the Gosnell tragedy. They fail black women when they work to undermine crisis pregnancy centers, which are an invaluable resource for so many low-income black women. And they fail the African American community by denying basic humanity to black babies in the womb.

Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly envisioned an America in which everyone would be free to share in the same opportunities as everyone else. The Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) Supreme Court case infamously decided that African Americans should be classified as “separate but equal” under the law. It took the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) case to declare that the “separate but equal” distinction was “inherently unequal.” But then the Court did a complete turnaround with Roe vs. Wade in 1973. The court took civil rights back to where they stood before the Plessy decision. In legalizing abortion-on-demand, the Court ruled that a group of people, namely unborn children, did not deserve any legal protection whatsoever. For this reason, Roe vs. Wade is completely antithetical to King’s Dream.

Abortion has not made our society more equitable. In fact, it has done the opposite. Abortion has allowed society to arbitrarily decide whose lives are valuable and whose are expendable. True equality treats all human life the same, regardless of race, stage of development or condition of dependency. Abortion prevents millions of African Americans from sharing in King’s Dream and it must be ended.