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Statement by Dr. Charmaine Yoest at Selma Project Rally

It is an honor to stand here today, with these dear friends – with the brave and courageous members of the Black Prolife movement.

We are all grieving together as we gather tonight in the shadow of the tragic and murderous racial violence that unfolded in Charleston this week.

So it’s appropriate, and humbling, that we meet here in Selma, a special place, a historic place. There’s a heritage here – blood has been spilled here that we must commit our hearts to worthy of. We are inspired by the brave men and women who stood here, who stood together to say that people of color deserve equal protection under the law. They marched together to claim their human rights, established by God, and to insist that their civil rights must be upheld by the secular authorities.

This is our heritage. And here tonight on the anniversary of Juneteenth – when we celebrate the end of slavery – and standing in a place where heroes fought a great battle for civil rights — we come together to say that the fight against the abortion industry is the great human rights battle of our generation.

The abortion industry is rooted in racism – its history is cloaked with the foul odor of eugenic racism – and it continues so today. We know that black women are their target – sought out when they are at their most vulnerable – so that an evil industry can profit from their pain.

We know that abortion is the number one killer of black lives in the United States. More than diabetes. More than heart disease. More than cancer. Abortion snuffs out more black lives than all other causes of death, combined.

This is what Margaret Sanger set out to accomplish when she established the Negro Project in 1939. And now today Black women account for 37% of all abortions, bearing the brunt of an unregulated and unscrupulous industry. Planned Parenthood is targeting these women, all while claiming to be defenders of women’s health.

We are here tonight to join together to say that #BlackWomenMatter.

The death of Tonya Reeves at the hands of Planned Parenthood – a single, mother from the South Side of Chicago – her death matters.
The death of Lakisha Wilson at a Cleveland clinic – her death matters.

Abortion harms women, and as African American women bear a disproportionate burden of that risk, we must fight for pro-life laws to be enforced for their sake and the sake of all women.

Abortion harms women, and it is simply not right that the abortion industry is allowed to continue operating outside the law because so many of their victims don’t have access to society’s levers of powers. Their deaths, their injuries matter. Black women matter.

Pro-life laws must be enforced to protect the women who suffer behind the closed doors of abortion clinics. Despite the fact that abortion harms all women, there is no denying that African American women bear a greater burden of the travesty of an abortion clinic Today, we stand in solidarity with women throughout America, and in a special way minority and poor women who are routinely targeted and exploited by Big Abortion.

For over 40 years, Americans United for Life, has provided legal service to the pro-life community, and we have responded to the horrors of abortion with more than 50 pieces of model legislation, published in Defending Life, our guidebook of pro-life legislation. Our priority legislative project today is the Women’s Protection Project, which offers states a package of model laws that can be passed to protect women from a greedy industry that puts profits over people.

And we know that pro-life laws save lives: According to the scholar Dr. Michael J. New, legislative efforts to enact parental involvement laws, informed consent laws, and limits on taxpayer funding of abortion has contributed to a 25 percent nationwide decline in the number of abortions performed since 1992.

But WE KNOW that all too often even after we’ve worked to pass pro-life laws, civil authorities choose to ignore them, and lives are lost. All of us here remember the “House of Horrors” in Pennsylvania.

Convicted murderer and abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell could have been stopped if only Pennsylvania officials had enforced the pro-life laws on the books. AFTER Karnamaya Mongar died inside Gosnell’s clinic, AFTER the bodies of babies – some of them killed after birth – were discovered, we learned through the grand jury investigative report that a political decision had been made to ignore laws that would have stopped him. Kermit Gosnell made millions in his legal, unregulated clinic, yet he refused to spend money to sterilize his equipment or meet basic health and safety codes. For example, contrary to the law in effect at the time, no inspections of his clinic were performed by Pennsylvania health licensing authorities for over a decade before his arrest. And Kermit Gosnell is no aberration when it comes to abortion providers evading the law.

To be clear – the first, legal line of defense for women in abortion clinics when it comes to the law MUST BE state and local officials properly and consistently enforcing a state’s abortion-related laws.

But just as the civil authorities refused to allow Black citizens their legal right to vote in the 1950s; today they too often turn a blind eye to illegal atrocities in the abortion industry.

It is time for us to act. It is time for this industry that preys on vulnerable women to be held to account. Our Americans United for Life legal team has created an Enforcement Module as a tool to empower individuals and organizations to enforce the laws when officials do not defend women and girls from the criminal acts of abortionists. This is THE MISSING LINK in our legal defense against abortion industry abuses.

AUL’s Enforcement Module empowers the people. It empowers communities to take action when the authorities allow abortionists free rein. The Enforcement Module, when passed by a legislature and signed into law, creates a private right of action for the individual to hold the state accountable for enforcing the laws that protect life in their communities.

Americans United for Life is proud to work alongside other members of The Selma Project to educate people about how to get involved in protecting the innocent. Today we are here to remember the names of precious women, who lost their lives in an under-regulated, callous, profit-centered industry sometimes protected deliberately or negligently by political officials. We are here to say, their lives mattered.

We will not be silent – women’s lives are on the line. And #BlackWomenMatter.

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