MLK Jr. niece speaks to crowd

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – The niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., energized anti-abortion activists Saturday, urging them to continue to speak out against abortion, during an annual protest of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

“The babies need us,” Alveda King told a packed state House chamber. “You know, they’re like a slave in the womb of a mom. The mom’s deciding whether they will live or die. It’s civil rights.”

More than 350 protesters braved subzero temperatures marching through the city streets to the Statehouse for the rally. Adults of all ages and children carried “Defend Life,” “Stop Abortion Now,” and “Abortion Kills Children” signs while a group of teenagers, members of the Diocese Youth Council, chanted at the end of the parade.

The Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano said he was inspired by the number of young people at the rally.

Olivia Durham, 42, of Barre, marched with her husband and three sons. “It’s good for them to see that abortion is a real thing,” she said of her sons. “They get to see the effects of abortion on families.”

Eileen Haupt, 47, of Jericho, who attended the rally with her husband and two young daughters, said she made the trip to Montpelier “to be a witness for the sanctity of life.”

King said supporting abortion rights contradicted her uncle’s dedication to nonviolence.

She cited a speech in which King, the civil rights leader who was shot dead in 1968, said, “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for personal comfort and safety.”

Planned Parenthood, which praised King with an award in 1966 for fighting bigotry and his dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

King, 56, had two abortions herself. She says one was administered involuntarily by doctors two years before Roe vs. Wade and the second occurred after abortion was legalized.

She planned to have a third abortion when she said she was urged by two African American men, her grandfather, the father of Martin Luther King, Jr., and her boyfriend, not to.

“A woman has a right to choose what she does with her body, of course she does. But I had to admit right then that baby was not my body,” she said. “I did not have the right to kill another person, and so I admitted that, and as soon as I admitted that things began to change for me.”

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