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African-American Abortion Rights Group Demands Reproductive Justice

An African-American abortion rights organization has strongly condemned Alveda King, the niece of iconic civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for her stand against women’s reproductive rights and for aligning with anti-abortion movement.

“We don’t consent and we will not be silent,” said Black Women for Reproductive Justice Executive Director Toni M. Leonard Thursday at a press conference held at the offices of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Leonard, who became pregnant at the age of 12, said she would have been living a life of poverty if her mother, a single parent, had not helped her access an abortion. Getting pregnant is not a worst thing that can happen to a girl, she said, but it’s not a fair start..

Reproductive justice is about planning your family and raising your children, Leonard said. She accused King of dividing the community on reproductive rights issue.

Dorothy Roberts of the Northwestern University School of Law said African-American women have a long history of fighting for respect for their reproductive decisions. Many African-American female politicians, along with Dr. King, publicly supported abortion rights. Similarly, grassroots advocates have worked tirelessly to make reproductive health services more widely available in African-American communities.

“This assault on black women turns attention away from the true enemy of black children: racism, sexism and economic equality,” Roberts said.

She added that when anti-abortion activists equate black women’s reproductive decisions with aiding in black genocide, they twist history and misrepresent the community.

Alveda King currently heads Priests for Life, an African-American outreach group. She came into the spotlight after making several appearances on conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s radio program.

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