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FIRST-PERSON: The unborn await Dr. King’s dream


McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–On Aug. 28, 1963, an estimated 250,000 people gathered at our nation’s capital for the express purpose of making a unified statement that all citizens of America — regardless of their skin color — should be treated with equality. It was to this mighty throng that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his most memorable oratory. With an economy of words, Dr. King eloquently articulated a vision that still moves people committed to life, liberty and justice for all.

Throughout his “I Have A Dream” speech, Dr. King echoed his vision of a colorblind America where people would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“In a sense,” he told the crowd, “we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Dr. King’s words, as well as his actions, helped galvanize a generation on the issue of civil rights and change the plight of black Americans. Reflecting on the words Dr. King uttered on that hot summer day almost 40 years ago, I can’t help but feel a sense of irony that many Americans still refuse to apply his message to individuals — fellow citizens and members of the human race — that have yet to be born.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States of America rendered a decision that declared pre-born humans are essentially non-persons and thus void of any civil rights. The Roe v. Wade decision had the same effect on a baby in the womb as the Dread Scott decision had on a black person. In that 1857 case, the Supreme Court declared that blacks had no rights which whites had to recognize.

In the three decades since the Supreme Court ripped the right to life away from those yet born, some 41-million individuals have been denied the opportunity to take their first breath. More children have lost their lives to abortion than all the soldiers killed in all the wars the United States has ever fought.

In the almost 40 years since Dr. King articulated his dream of a colorblind America, much has been achieved in the area of civil rights. However, in the 30 years since Roe v. Wade, little has changed in the plight of the pre-born. While some states have passed laws that make it more difficult for a child to be aborted, the fact still remains that in the United States of America a child’s life can be terminated at any time he or she is “in the womb.” And in reference to partial-birth abortion, the term “in the womb” is defined very loosely.

Dr. King stated in his 1963 speech, “It is obvious that America has defaulted on this promissory note [the promise that all would enjoy the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness] insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'”

The pre-born in America have been issued the same worthless paper, only they never even have the opportunity to hold it in their hands. Dr. King’s dream will remain unfulfilled until all Americans have the guarantee of the most fundamental of all rights: the right to be born — the right to life.
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Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church, McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs