dr-alveda-king_web.jpgThirty-five years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe vs. Wade case, over 49 million pregnancies have been terminated, 47 percent from African-American women, said the niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the “Together We Can Save Lives” breakfast on Aug. 2 at New Way Fellowship Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, 60 people listened to keynote speaker Alveda C. King share her personal story of having two abortions.
A civil rights activist like her legendary uncle, King, 58, is the director of African-American Outreach for Gospel of Life. The organization is an affiliate of Priests for Life, a collaborative effort of clergy and pastoral associates that aims to reveal the abortion procedure to the public. The group also urges people to participate in the fight to end the procedure.

A mother of six children, King has become one of the nation’s leading pro-life advocates.  She raises awareness of this important decision that affects women, men and families in her “Silent No More” campaign.

King compared abortion to the 1857 Dred Scott decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks – whether slaves or not – could never be citizens of the United States. King’s comparison to the ruling focused on blacks being property that could be bought, sold and killed.

“Dr. [Martin Luther] King once said, ‘The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety,’ ” King said.

The event was organized by Heartbeat of Miami, a Christian anti-abortion pregnancy resource center. The pro-life activists, including King, Martha Avila, president of Heartbeat of Miami, and host pastor, Bishop Billy Baskin, said that they aim to expose the truths about abortions.

King said abortions leave physical and psychological scars, and are linked to breast and cervical cancer. Many of the women who regret choosing abortion suffer severe, long-term clinical depression and a loss of self- esteem, and have a higher rate of suicide than those who carry their babies, King said.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest legal abortion provider, argues that some women do feel anger, regret, guilt and sadness after an abortion.  Instead of suffering with these emotions long-term, most women are relieved.

While the risks increase with the length of pregnancy, abortions are safe, Planned Parenthood argues.  Many myths exist regarding the risks associated with the medical process. One such myth, that abortion causes breast cancer, was refuted in a 2003 report by the National Cancer Institute. More than 1 in 3 women in the U.S. have the increasingly common procedure by the time they are 45 years old, according to Planned Parenthood’s website.

Avila said Miami-Dade County has one of the highest abortion rates in the country.  She said the county has more than 37 abortion facilities in predominantly black and Hispanic communities such as Little Haiti, Little Havana and Hialeah.

To combat the increase in abortions and offer alternatives such as abstinence and adoption, Heartbeat of Miami launched its first clinic in Hialeah in 2007. A second clinic is scheduled to open at the end of August in a low-income neighborhood in Miami Gardens.

To date, the clinic reports having served 975 women and aided in the birth of 138 babies.

“In our brochures you will find real babies. These are our babies that we have rescued from abortion. These are testimonies of the hundreds who have been restored and babies who have been saved. God is making a difference right here in our backyard,” said Avila.

Planned Parenthood’s website includes a warning for pregnant women contemplating abortion to steer clear of “so-called crisis pregnancy centers” – which the site said “are fake clinics run by people who are anti-abortion” and “have a history of scaring women into not having abortions.”

The debate centers on the question of when life begins.

Many women, including King, initially thought that the fetus was just “blobs of tissue.” Not so, she said, showing a thumb-sized replica of a 12-week-old fetus. Avila said 89 percent of the women who visit a Heartbeat clinic changed their minds about having an abortion after seeing a sonogram of their babies.

Planned Parenthood’s website refutes the claim that it only advocates abortions. In 2006, it prevented some 642,000 pregnancies. Its services also include educating and informing the community about pregnancy prevention, including the use of contraceptives, and the practice of abstinence.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, reports that,  “On average, women give at least three reasons for choosing abortion: three quarters say that having a child would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about two thirds say they cannot afford a child; and half say that they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

Planned Parenthood receives over $305 million annually from government grants and contracts, plus an additional $345 million in revenue from abortion. Pregnancy centers like Heartbeat are supported by private donors.


Photo by Phil Roche. Dr. Alveda King