Activist and author Alveda King, who is the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., advocated the importance of respecting all forms of human life in an event entitled “Civil Rights for the Unborn,” held in the Copley Formal Lounge on Tuesday.
Over 20 people attended the event, which was co-sponsored by Georgetown Right to Life, Georgetown University Women of Color and the Georgetown University Lecture Fund.
After opening remarks, King showed two videos: a trailer for her latest book, “King Rules,” and a music video with a montage of photos of the King family and its involvement in the civil rights movement.
King shared her personal history, which included her own birth as a result of an unplanned pregnancy and a discussion of her own two abortions, saying she hoped her story will be able create new opportunities for conversation.
“I find that when I tell my own testimony, it opens up opportunities for discussion,” King said.
According to King, abortion was illegal at the time of her conception. However, the American Birth Control League, which would later become Planned Parenthood, offered sterilization opportunities and information to young people on college campuses.
King said she agonized over her own two abortions, both of which were kept secret. Both abortions occurred in the 1970s.
“Between the drugs, the shots, the pills — through the years I had several procedures and was sad and depressed,” she said.
King considered herself pro-abortion rights but she said she changed her mind after her first ultrasound during her third pregnancy. At the time, she was considering getting another abortion.
“I saw my first ultrasound, and that baby was younger than the two who had been aborted. And I just thought ‘Oh my god, it’s a baby!’” King said.
Regarding her current anti-abortion stance, King echoed the words of her uncle and talked about his beliefs regarding nonviolence and social activism.
“He said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ If we forsake respect for the human personality, we’re in trouble,” King said. “When we regard the human personality, we won’t kill anybody, we won’t trample anybody, we won’t oppress anybody.”
King said she views all aspects of the anti-abortion advocacy platform as holding equal importance. King said asserting one method of advocacy’s importance over the other is not helpful for the anti-abortion movement.
“Tonight I can’t even tell you what’s most important because to me it all goes together,” King said. “Arguing about which method is the best becomes extremely divisive to the pro-life cause as a whole.”
King said it would be a mistake to take a strong hardline stance against women seeking abortions and a bigger effort should be made to learn more about their situations.
“You can’t just say ‘Don’t abort the baby, it’s murder and God will be mad at you,’” King said. “What happens to that mother that becomes pregnant and is hopeless? Or how was she in that position? And what about the dad who maybe does want the abortion or doesn’t?”
King said mothers can still make choices about their body as a parent and that the parent’s life and the fetus’ life must be considered equal.
“Women can be empowered and still make healthy choices about motherhood,” King said. “They should sing together in concert. One should never overpower the other.”
President of the Georgetown Right to Life club Amelia Irvine (COL ’19) said she thought King’s past and family connections made the discussion stand out.
“I thought it was a really unique perspective that Alveda could bring with her personal history mixed in with her family’s famous past,” Irvine said.
Richard Howell (SFS ’19), who attended the event, said he found value in King relating her own experience with abortion.
“Her perspective having had two abortions was interesting,” Howell said. “She understood the choice and the pressures behind making that choice.”