African American leaders are asking the Alabama Supreme Court to ensure equal protection under the law for black women and unborn black babies in the state targeted by the abortion industry.
In November 2018, Alabama voters backed a state constitutional amendment, called Amendment 930, that explicitly recognizes and protects the rights of unborn children in the state, granting them equal protection under the law.
The group of black leaders submitted the Equality Petition to the Alabama Supreme Court on Sept. 22, the 158th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Confederate states.
The petition filed in Montgomery, Alabama, specifically calls for the state’s highest court to clarify for elected officials that the U.S. Constitution empowers them, and the state Constitution requires them, to prohibit discrimination against black women and unborn black children to ensure their equal protection.
“The impact could be far reaching for all preborn children, but [we’re] specifically looking at the lives of preborn black children in Alabama,” Amie Beth Shaver, a spokeswoman for the Equality Proclamation movement, said in a phone interview with The Daily Signal.
“As an adopted biracial child, that is a big deal to me,” Shaver, who was crowned Miss Alabama 1994, said in a phone interview.
The group of black leaders promoting the Equality Proclamation say that census data shows that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers intentionally target back women and children by setting up clinics in African American neighborbhoods.
The result in Alabama, they say, is that black babies are four times more likely to be aborted than are white babies. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion across the nation, they say, 20 million black babies have been aborted.
Shaver, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Alabama House in 2014, said:
It is a civil rights breakthrough that we are looking forward to. We signed a new emancipation proclamation, and we do look at this as a breakthrough for the lives of America’s preborn children and the lives of preborn black children. We look forward to our court taking this case.
The petition cites both the 10th Amendment, which grants power to the states, and the 14th Amendment, which grants equal protection for all Americans.
Alveda King, a pro-life activist and a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said in an interview that the abortion industry traditionally has targeted the black population going back to its founding by Margaret Sanger in 1921.
“Planned Parenthood, even when it was the [American] Birth Control League, has always targeted the African American community,” King told The Daily Signal. “We have been targeted in America since the days of slavery, through Jim Crow, through the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s. We are still targeted today.”
King noted the legacy of her slain uncle, which included fighting segregation in Alabama. Today, she said, the people of Alabama are “brave” to stand for life and equality in their laws.
“My prayers are totally with the people of Alabama,” she said.
She quoted her uncle as saying: “The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the future of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety.”
She added that the revered civil rights activist also said: “When you value the human personality, you won’t kill anybody.”
Alveda King continued:
Based upon those words, I believe my uncle, were he here today, he would say there has to be a better way, a nonviolent way, that will protect women, families, babies in the womb, all the way to the tomb for every person. There has to be a better way than population control, which targets African Americans to reduce population.
It’s difficult to predict how quickly the Alabama Supreme Court will make a decision, but it likely could seek a response from top state officials sometime in the next week, said Sam McLure, a lawyer for the Adoption Law Firm, which represents the group of black leaders.
The group’s petition to the Alabama Supreme Court cites the Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, specifically the portion that states: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. … the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”
“We are answering a question that the court said they didn’t know the answer to in 1973,” Catherine Davis, president of the Atlanta-based Restoration Project, an African American policy group, told The Daily Signal. “The science is here today. To say anything other than ‘The child in the womb is a person’ is just not true. We know that the child in the womb is not a clump of cells.”
Since the 1973 ruling is not clear on the science, that gives 10th Amendment standing to Alabama and other states, Davis said.
“Alabama has said that if a life in the womb is a person, and the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case said if the child in the womb is a person, that all of the arguments [that] are put forth would be moot because that child’s rights would be entitled to due process under the 14th Amendment,” she said.
Davis said she anticipates that the case could have national impact:
From a national perspective, if the Alabama Supreme Court says, ‘Yes, the child in the womb is a person that is entitled to equal protection,’ I think the abortion industry would then try to challenge the writ of mandamus, saying enforcement of [the] Alabama constitutional amendment would be directly in conflict with the U.S. Constitution because they view abortion as a constitutionally protected right. So, the [U.S.] Supreme Court would then be asked to answer the question, ‘Is the child in the womb then a person?’ If that child is a person, then it is entitled to equal protection.
The Equality Proclamation’s website explains why the group focuses on African Americans with regard to abortion.
“The petitioners seek to leave no minority or any other group of children out of the scope of this petition. Petitioners hold that Alabama’s Constitution, homicide, wrongful death, and probate laws protect all children in Alabama from discrimination, and we seek to leave none of them out,” it says, adding:
This petition specifically focuses upon and emphasizes its plea on behalf of black women and children in Alabama because the abortion industry’s egregiously disproportionate and discriminatory practices toward black women and children are far more pronounced than in any other races. We believe that if America can open its eyes to this, the most egregious discrimination in our nation’s history, that it will also open our eyes to discrimination against any child for any reason.
The group also states that Roe v. Wade precedent doesn’t mean the U.S. Supreme Court will knock down a ruling from Alabama’s highest court that unborn children have rights:
It would be morally unconscionable, constitutionally indefensible, and without judicial or legal precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the United States Constitution prohibits Alabama from legally preventing discrimination against black babies in Alabama. No U.S. Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott (including Roe and Casey) would prohibit states from legally preventing discrimination against these babies.