The Expression of a Hopeful People: MLK and Nonviolence
By Sonja Morin, Communications Intern
The second - and perhaps most famous - element of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism strategy is nonviolence. When learning about Dr. King in schools, we are told from a young age that nonviolence was an instrumental part of his work. The principle has become so well-known that we tend to forget how truly revolutionary and affirming such nonviolent action is. Let’s take a few moments here to call to mind what nonviolent activism is, and how it can be implemented for the sake of defending human dignity.
It is easier for people to ignore a problem than to deal with the controversy of facing it directly. It is easier to abide by the status quo than to challenge it. If nothing is calling attention to the problem, then complacency continues, and the problem is given no importance in the minds of those in the community. We see this in our communities and how they confront abortion and euthanasia, two of the most prominent human rights issues to date. The most prominent argument, repeated ad nauseam to drown out the ‘naysayers’ is that taking the fetus’s life or killing the individual in a euthanasia situation is the individual’s choice. The main fallacy with this argument is that it is not meant to support abortion or euthanasia, but rather to silence any opposition or question. It is what it is, so there’s no point in intervening. It is not a supportive claim but a passive one, which does nothing to forward discourse, and even hurts the proponent’s side.
We cannot leave situations stagnant if they are to be solved. We cannot let people go ignored and uncared for. Instead, these issues must be brought to the attention of the community. Nonviolent direct action fixates the attention of the community, not onto the activists themselves but on the injustice. It makes the community focus long enough to realize that the problem is too large and harmful to ignore. The community is thus compelled to act on the action. Even if they act against the activists, they are still forced to reexamine their beliefs. A fantastic example is the recent arrests made after the sidewalk chalking incident outside of a D.C. Planned Parenthood. While the pro-choice community may not agree with the message the pro-life activists were writing, they can see that the injustice done to the latter were unfair, and need to be rectified. It allows for the reevaluation of the treatment of others based solely on belief, and allows for some compassion. Self-awareness is always the first step to change.
But what of the following quote: “A riot is the language of the unheard”? This quote has reappeared especially in the face of the ongoing protests in the United States of late, but woefully out of context. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was expressing the fact that riots are indeed the result of a people so devastated and hopeless due to injustices. However, he was not condoning such action. Violence is the supposed solution when people have lost utter hope in themselves and in their communities to create change. Because they believe they are powerless to change the circumstances of their time they fall into despair. The powers that be then respond in fear rather than with hopeful purpose, failing to create the change that is needed and desired.
Nonviolent action is an expression of hope. It affirms the belief that people can change, that their hearts and minds can be more in tune with the needs of their fellow persons. Nonviolent activists bring an awareness to the injustice that is not motivated by fear or resignation, but rather by the belief that humanity can do better for its people. Those who use nonviolent protest or demonstration call for hopeful solidarity in this shared aim. Even if the activist does not seem to succeed in changing minds immediately, their actions move hearts. That movement is more crucial than anything. If even momentary consideration is given to an injustice by a community,it almost inevitably leads to a process of exposure, accountability, and restoration of justice. It leads to progress grounded in love of others
Dr. King believed in nonviolence because he knew how powerful it was in organically appealing to the deep tendencies of the human heart. Nonviolence is written all over the pages of his work, from the Freedom Rides to the marches in Selma, Birmingham, and Washington, D.C. Peaceful action cries through the words of his sermons, speeches, and letters. Now it calls to us, activists in a world hurting from constant attacks on the human person. Let us be a people of hope and lasting change, using nonviolent movement to call our communities to attention and action.
Consider your own efforts in the pro-life movement. What have you done recently to support human dignity and rights at all stages of life? Do you call the attention of those around you to greater awareness? To women like Keisha Atkins and Laura Hope Smith? To babies like Baby Myles, whose life was saved by someone's peaceful action?
Want to do more to take part in nonviolent action?
Here are some ideas to start: Help sidewalk counsel like this woman or host a pro-life chalk day at your local abortion facility; Take part in flyering or wearing pro-life gear to promote discussion [August 26th, the centennial of women's suffrage, is a great day to begin with #PurpleSashRevolution's "Equal Rights for Preborn Women" gear!], and sharing more information and lobbying against current proposed life-threatening laws in our state, especially the “ROE” Act, whose deadline was extended to November 12 of this year.
Today, the ROE Act threatens children like Hope and women like Keisha Atkins. It not only threatens them and the unborn, it specifically targets the marginalized and underrepresented members of our society, and it substitutes an abortion lobby's special interests for respectful, loving care.
Not even voters who consider themselves pro-choice think it’s a good idea to remove parental consent and adult supervision for 12-year-old girls entering abortion centers. Nor do they agree that it’s safe for women to undergo dangerous, late-term abortions in unregulated outpatient clinics.
That's why we will stop the ROE Act before it goes any further. This dangerous bill has had its reporting deadline EXTENDED to November 12, despite the legislative session's close on July 31st.
Legislators need to hear that you do not support this radical bill.
WE NEED YOU TO CALL YOUR LEGISLATOR AND THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE EACH WEEK UNTIL NOVEMBER 12.
√√ Use this main State House number (617) 722-2000 to request your legislator. Next call (617) 722-2396 to reach Chair Rep. Claire Cronin and Vice Chair Rep. Michael Day at the offices of the Judiciary Committee.
|Even if you've already called, your voice in the next two months, raised on behalf of women and preborn babies, will prove to our representatives that Massachusetts supports hope and rejects ROE's abortion- promoting discrimination. .|
√√ Share this call-to-action with your friends and family. Forward it with a personal invitation to join you in calling the State House today.
√√ Get on social media and share the State House number and this easy to use call script with key dangers included in the "ROE" Act.
Please shoot us an email with any questions or needs.
I'm calling personally with you each week -- for my fellow women, our preborn people, and our children endangered by the "ROE" Act.
It was not a regular day in front of the Boston abortion facility run by Planned Parenthood. For one, it was day 120+ since the COVID pandemic required mass masking, and shut down the busy hustle and bustle on Commonwealth Avenue Hub residents are so accustomed to. But additional to that, something new was going on in front of the abortuary.
Under the glare of sun reflected off the multi-storey layer of glass windows, beside the triangular pop-up signage stating, We care! Abortion care available here! a crowd of young women had gathered.
They weren't ducking into the facility. They weren't in baggy sweats, or darting glances over their shoulders as they dashed for the door.
They held sidewalk chalk buckets, and their eyes above their masks crinkled with smiles.
What does it look like to oppose, change, and replace the abortion business? What does it mean to put women's health over profit? How do you let girls know that their worth isn't based on a choice that kills their child?
How do you save the women who are trafficked, and the expose the criminals who cover their crime by forcibly killing the child who is evidence of the abuse?
Chalk it out.
Abuse can't survive exposure. We need love and respect, not power and abortion. But we also don't need words so much as we need actions -- and that's what these young people proved on Saturday.
You are loved.
A woman who is loved: What can she not do?
A woman who is supported and respected: She does not take the life of her unborn child.
"This morning we stood as advocates for mother and baby, offering hope and help outside Planned Parenthood," said Abigail Young, MCFL Board member and staff at Students for Life. "We even changed the mind of one passerby who cheered us on thinking we were pro-choice, came back to clarify our position, and returned a third time wanting to learn more! She was surprised to hear that we were not there in judgement and could actually offer tangible resources to women. She continued her run after thanking us for being there and willing to talk with her."
SUPPORT MCFL'S LIFE-SAVING OUTREACH HERE
On July 30th, 2020, a little before noon, C.J. and Maria approached the State House, pulling a suitcase packed with thousands of citizens' signatures opposing the "ROE" Act.
But even though we had contacted the Joint Committee on the Judiciary offices ahead of time, our team had an unpleasant surprise.
After trying three different angles with the security guards -- and then a fourth ("We have petitions to deliver." "It's time sensitive." "We aren't the general public." "Would you be willing to help us and carry the box upstairs?) C.J. and Maria retreated to the lobby.
No one was working that day, they were told. Everyone is remote.
But if you really want to get something done -- and when lives, and the future of your state are involved -- you do it. In this case, the lives on the line are those of Massachusetts' women, babies like Hope and like Melissa, and our 13 and 14 year old girls' like Veronica.
Multiple phone calls later, C.J. reached Representative Michael Day's aide.
Thank you, Dan! Not only did Dan take the entire box of petitions, and your signatures opposing the "ROE" Act it contained, he gave us a social-distanced elbow-bump and good luck as well.
The campaign isn't over yet though. Due to the governor's declaration of a state of emergency, the legislature may continue to deliberate on bills past the July 31st date.
Help us continue to advocate for our women and the unborn babies in Massachusetts by donating here today.
To all of you who have signed the petition, shared on social media, and called the committee offices with us every day, THANK YOU.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MASSACHUSETTS PRO-LIFE CITIZENS DELIVER THOUSANDS OF SIGNATURES OPPOSING “ROE” ACT
857 302 0466
July 30, 2020 -- Boston, MA -- Just over a year after rallying more than 1,000 citizens at the State House to oppose the “ROE” Act (S.1209/H.3320) during its 2019 public hearing, Massachusetts Citizens for Life members and staff will deliver thousands of “No to ROE” petitions at noon on Thursday, July 30th.
The bill, heavily supported by abortion rights organizations, including NARAL and the Planned Parenthood Federation of Massachusetts, eliminates significant amounts of text in current abortion law, resulting in legislation that proves too extreme for many citizens to swallow, even those who identify as pro-choice.
If voted into law, the “ROE” Act would deny medical care to babies who survive failed abortions. Girls as young as 12 would be able to have an abortion without any adult knowing about it. Additionally, “ROE” would remove medical standards of care for women undergoing the grueling multi-day late-term abortion procedure, placing these life-threatening surgeries in unregulated clinics. In New Mexico, where this practice is standard, Albuquerque’s abortion facility, Southwest Medical, currently faces prosecution in the wrongful deaths of 13 women.
“Our supporters continue to call their legislators daily, urging them to reject this flawed attempt at ‘care’ for Massachusetts women. Even if the current legislative session is extended indefinitely, we will continue to speak on behalf of our members to oppose this radical and unsafe bill for as for as long as it takes to defeat it,” said MCFL President Myrna Maloney Flynn.
“This bill has, thankfully, received considerable attention since it was introduced last year. Its dangerous implications have raised alarms among both pro-life and pro-abortion voters across the state,” Flynn continued. “We are honored to deliver thousands of petitions to Beacon Hill today, because we know that each one represents a passionate ‘no’ to this bill from residents of Massachusetts who care deeply about the health and safety of our women, our girls, our infants, and the unborn.”
The petition delivery will be made by members of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, who are acutely sensitive to current circumstances caused by the pandemic.
“We wouldn’t come out under other circumstances,” says C.J. Williams, MCFL’s director of community engagement. “But if we value our fellow citizens enough to lock down the entire state to save the most at risk from COVID, shouldn’t we oppose laws that will take those very lives, the lives of the most vulnerable among us?”
“I’ve called every day for the last month to ask the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to consider the dangerous implications of this bill. I’m definitely delivering petitions,” said David Lehr, a member from Everett.
The signatures were collected online, during events, and through a direct mail campaign. This will be the second delivery. Williams, and three others, delivered nearly 2,000 last fall as well.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life, founded in 1973 by women such as Dr. Mildred Jefferson, remains the Bay State’s singly-dedicated human rights organization focused on pro-life activism.
At the New York flagship Planned Parenthood facility, you could always count on seeing Sanger. No, not in person -- the abortion giant's founder, an adherent of Hitler's philosophy on race and a gung-ho eugenicist, has her name up in lights on that location. Or at least, she did until this last week when the organization finally decided to publicly disavow the woman who called the disabled "undesirables" and said of large families that "the most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."
During this current upsurge of awareness around racial violence, Planned Parenthood simply couldn't brush off its founder's legacy any longer.
One Planned Parenthood representative was quoted in a NY Times article saying they had decided to formally remove Sanger's name because of her “harmful connections to the eugenics movement."
But what the decision did not do, and cannot do under contemporary circumstances, is remove Planned Parenthood's clear and present commitment to continuing Sanger's eugenicist and racist agenda.
Clinics under the abortion organization's umbrella are disproportionately situated in minority neighborhoods. A few years ago, Lila Rose's investigative activists at Live Action caught representatives offering to take donations specifically to target black babies in Ohio.
The women who are most likely to "choose" abortion are black Americans.
As recently as 2016, Planned Parentood was pushing a fact sheet calling Sanger 'well-intentioned' in her attempt to push birth control and abortion on immigrant communities.
If abortion is a free choice, and a right, why are women with fewer means and more pressure more likely to abort? Why is Planned Parenthood pushing it -- and why did they wait this long to throw out Sanger? Many fellow citizens here in Massachusuetts will ask us why, when they meet us at sidewalk outreach or during an event like the March for Life -- why don't you support PP? They do so much good work.
When Planned Parenthood jettisons not just the Sanger's name, but her bitter commitment to destroying the vulnerable, targeting minorities, and her sick philosophy on genetic purity, perhaps we as a nation should reconsider. But honestly, can we simply jettison Planned Parenthood at this point, Sanger's name, legacy, and all?
Let's support, not abort. Let's create new systems, and new organizations like Guiding Star and Stanton Healthcare that see women as strong, offer support and resource and information. Because a free choice is one that gives life; a decision coerced almost always diminishes and demeans.
CITATION: Changes to be made to Massachusetts General Law chapter 112, §§12Q and S: informed consent and parental consent. (Rewritten in the new Section 12N of the ROE Act, which eliminates all requirement of parental consent.)
Veronica, left, in a childhood photo
We spoke with a family whose daughter went to a Planned Parenthood clinic after discovering her unexpected pregnancy. The discussion revealed truths about what it’s like for a teenage girl to face pregnancy in Massachusetts.
Current state law requires one parent to provide consent before a minor undergoes an abortion. (If the ROE Act passes, a girl as young as 12 could legally obtain an abortion without a parent, or any adult other than clinic staff, knowing about it.) We asked Jerry and Maggie, Veronica's parents, “As a 16-year-old, how accessible was abortion to Veronica?” “Obviously, we weren't informed when Veronica went [to Planned Parenthood],” they said. “We asked her, and she said no one there mentioned her age. We don't think that law is being followed.”
Veronica agreed. “When I went to Planned Parenthood there was no adult or parent with me,” she said. “The woman I talked to knew my age, and it did not seem to be a problem for me to get an abortion.”
“What do you remember about the clinic?” I asked. “I was expecting to be given more resources and options, but it felt like they were just mainly focused on abortion," Veronica said. One worker told her, "It isn't a baby yet," a comment Veronica says haunts her today.
In spite of the difficult memories of being alone at Planned Parenthood, she says, “Every day, when I wake up to Myles’ smiling face, I am so thankful that I made the decision I did. My life would be very empty without him."
The "ROE" Act would leave Veronica without the protection of her parents or an adult.
Call the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee today.
Ask them to shelve the "ROE" Act, and protect Hope.
Chair Claire Cronin
Vice Chair Michael Day
For more information on the "ROE" Act, and a call script, click here.
Everybody Can Serve:
What MLK Can Teach Us About Grassroots Organization
By Sonja Morin, Communications Intern
Early this month, the Supreme Court's crucial decision in the June v. Russo case reaffirmed what has been echoed throughout the past several months: now is the paramount time in the fight against abortion and its ill consequences for women, the pre-born, and society as a whole. The fight is a worthy one, that when successful, will ensure the safety, protection, and empowerment of people everywhere. This fight can simultaneously seem imposing and insurmountable, with many not knowing where to start in their activism. How does one change hearts and culture when they are so firmly set on abortion?
In the past, we have reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s activism. His example of compassion, firmness, and nonviolent demonstration led the civil rights movement by leaps and bounds during the twentieth century and beyond. Dr. King aimed to shape hearts and minds, because through it comes the change necessary to shift culture. Now, more than ever, does it seem appropriate to look back to his example, so we may move forward with daring for the sake of life and liberty. This and the following two posts will examine elements of his activism, to pinpoint strategies that are most helpful to the cause for life and women’s empowerment.
The first clear element of Dr. King’s activism was grassroots organization. This type of institution is one where its members are composed of the local community, and aim to improve the conditions of said community in regards to a particular issue. Individuals first come together out of shared concern over an issue. They decide to work together to actively spread the word about the issue, as well as promote and practice solutions for it. Individuals are united against issues that attack the humanity of a person or group, not because they are the same as the attacked persons, but because they share humanity. This shared status is reason enough to be angered by the injustice, and encourages the motivation to reverse the injustice.
Grassroots organization is incredibly effective by nature in its ability to identify and solve local issues. Dr. King worked within the communities to identify the issues applying to civil rights within each area, so that change could be demanded within those areas. In the same way, pro-life grassroots movements can find the issues within each community that need to be addressed through action or help. For example, if there is an area lacking resources for women facing unexpected pregnancies, resources could be pooled to ensure that these women feel secure and supported in their decision to choose life. If there is a law in a city that makes abortion even more unsafe than it already is, the community within that city can call for it to be repealed.
Grassroots organization also encourages the changing of hearts and minds like no other form of movement. Discrimination is the result of disordered, prejudiced thinking, which breaks relationships between people. Grassroots movements are based in communities, which are uniting forces. They rely on actions between persons, rather than large entities against each other. This interpersonal nature of their activism appeals directly to the heart. The community is able to witness the positive change the organization accomplishes, as well as witness the respect the organization gives to the dehumanized. Eventually, these actions will move the community to accept these dehumanized persons as the organization has. The impact of the grassroots movement grows, not because of large actions, but rather because of interpersonal foundation and efforts.
It is not to say that top-down organizations, such as political parties, cannot create or implement change. However, especially in situations where discrimination and dehumanization are involved, it is all too easy for such groups to generalize the situation. This generalization not only leads to incomplete solutions, but also expediencies that do not solve the root issues. Grassroots movements respond to these flaws by speaking to individual and smaller-community needs, thus allowing their solutions to work through and with people on an ever-growing scale. With each person’s contribution comes a newer and more diverse understanding of the situation, as well as a better way to help.
Dr. King’s utilization of grassroots organization caused the civil rights movement to reach countless hearts throughout the United States, and help improve conditions for African Americans in all spheres of life. If we participate in pro-life grassroots movements, like our own MCFL, we are entering into the same kind of culture-shifting, interpersonal work that he and many movements before undertook. It is through this type of organization that will create positive change for the pre-born and women we strive to defend every single day.
For those interested in taking part in grassroots efforts in Massachusetts, join MCFL today! We are a MA-based grassroots organization with chapters in all parts of the state. Get in contact with your chapter's leader here: MCFL Chapter List
For those already part of MCFL: Consider your own activism efforts. How are you currently contributing to the cause? In what ways could you improve or grow your efforts?
"I so did not believe anyone would be out here. And if they were, I was sure they'd be a fat old man, with, like, MAGA tattooed on his forehead."
The young woman was in front of Planned Parenthood in Boston. In COVID-time, she was also on a surprisingly quiet Commonwealth Avenue. The few other human beings who passed were masked and serious and looped wide to avoid her and each other as they pushed by.
But she wasn't alone.
An MCFL member who has been reaching out to our staff since late-Spring for guidance on when to return to the sidewalk was also there. Her sign read, "You're strong. Choose hope. Look at your ultrasound."
The young woman had arrived that Friday morning looking for an abortion -- and asking for a sign. But she had told the Universe, if there wasn't a sign -- or if the sign-holder was an old white man -- she was aborting.
Well, the MCFL member* wasn't an old man. She was a quiet woman in a violet face mask with dark eyes behind big glasses and a singsong voice.
She was all that mother needed to see, and all her unborn baby** needed to have his or her life recognized and protected.
The importance of providing support and affirmation to women before they enter the abortion clinic can't be emphasized often enough. We have a society that has learned to treat women like burdens. As Boston, and the world, has had a light shone on how a system set in place can continue to dehumanize people despite the intentions of individuals, we see how the system of abortion has always treated women like problems, and their incredible ability to give life like a disease.
All we need as a society is continually to see that each of us can be workers on a new system: One that saves, protects, and cherishes vulnerable lives, and does not discard the woman or the child at any stage in their development. We can be like the woman this last Friday morning who was a sign of hope.
*The member asked to remain anonymous. Her story was taken by the director of community engagement and this article has been posted with her permission.
**This save was inspired by the #SaveBabyMyles campaign, and other members are returning to sidewalk counseling using safe social distancing to offer support to women and to be voices for the voiceless preborn babies. Whether online or in-person, you can join and save lives by checking the Baby Myles' story here.
DOES YOUR CALL TO OPPOSE ROE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Yes, it does.
The legislative aides to the chair and vice chair told one of our members that the calls had been pouring in. "We count them. Every one."
But what if it's difficult to get on the phone? You may be working odd hours, have children at home, or just hate the phone and feel unable to communicate that way with a state representative.