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Peace & Life Connections Index

#313 Whole Life Conference, Black Lives Matter, Lives with Disabilities Matter

Louisiana Whole Life Conference

Democrats for Life of America held a conference in New Orleans over Memorial Day weekend, to bring together life issues such as abortion, the death penalty, poverty, racism and sex trafficking. Sr. Helen Prejean was a keynote speaker. As usual, Sr. Helen, a long-time advocate against the death penalty, succinctly connects the life issues in her talks. She said, "is dignity only for 'innocent life' or does all life have dignity?" Quoting statistics put from the Death Penalty Information Center, she said since 1973, 156 wrongfully convicted people have been taken off death row. Also speaking was Dr. Kathy Allen, Louisiana State Director of Black Advocates for Life. When told her child could have Down Syndrome, Allen chose to keep her baby. "I have come to believe that every life has value," she said. “Why does a baby in the womb have less value? She told her audience that a majority of babies aborted in Louisiana are Black. "One in five Black babies die in abortion clinics," she said. "Abortion is the number one killer of Black babies in the state of Louisiana."

Photos taken by Lisa Stiller at the conference: Left, Kathy Allen. Right, Helen Prejean

Black Lives Matter! The Black Lives Matter movement makes the point that Black people should receive the same respect and care for their well-being from the police that White people receive. Statistics and well-publicized cases suggest there’s racism involved in police shootings. Such racism is outrageous. The movement has expanded this principle to mass incarceration and to racism throughout the entire U.S. criminal justice system. Additionally, some African-American pro-life groups have applied the “Black Lives Matter” wording directly to abortion, concerned about the disproportionate number of Black babies aborted. A backlash to Black Lives Matter has used the phrase “all lives matter” to imply we shouldn’t focus so much on discrimination against a certain race. Context is important. By itself, the phrase “all lives matter” is a good short definition of the consistent life ethic. However, when it’s used as a retort to “Black lives matter!” it’s meant to water down the point. A point that shouldn’t be watered down.

Lives with Disabilities Matter This just in from our friends at Not Dead Yet: “The film Me Before You is set to be released this Friday, June 3rd. The film follows a romance between two of its characters, one of whom eventually ends his life at a suicide clinic because he does not want to live as a quadriplegic. Liz Carr, a disability rights activist at Not Dead Yet UK, explains the terrible message of this story: ‘if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead.’ Whether or not the filmmakers intended this message, it is certainly there. This is where the ‘right to die’ (i.e. the right to be killed) movement leads.’” They have a petition asking the Warner Brothers for an apology, and a hashtag #BoycottMeBeforeYou.

Quotation of the Week Note: The Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year starts at sundown on June 5. Maulana Muhammad Ali, translation of the Holy Qur’an Commentary on Qur’an 81:8-9, in a list of calamities occurring on Judgment day, “when the baby girl buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed”: The reference here is to the burying alive of daughters, a practice common among the pre-Islamic Arabs . . . The questioning refers to the time when, with the predominance of Islam in Arabia, the barbarous practice was to be abolished. But one buried alive may stand generally for the female sex, and the reference here may, therefore, be to the general tyranny of the male over the female.

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