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#BlackLivesMatter InterVarsity Urbana15 Speaker Responds after Backlash from Pro-Life Advocates: 'I Abhor the Slaughter of Innocents'

( [email protected] ) Jan 04, 2016 01:49 PM EST
Black Lives Matter activist Michelle Higgins has clarified her position on abortion after coming under fire from pro-life groups for seemingly critiquing pro-life activism during a speech given at Urbana 15.
Michelle Higgins speaks at Urbana 15 in St. Louis, MO YouTube

Black Lives Matter activist Michelle Higgins has clarified her position on abortion after coming under fire from pro-life groups for seemingly critiquing pro-life activism during a speech given at Urbana 15.

As reported by the Gospel Herald, during her 30-minute keynote address before 16,000 Urbana 15 attendees, Higgins, the director of Christian activist coalition Faith for Justice, argued that the Church could wipe out the adoption crisis tomorrow, but "we're too busy arguing to have abortion banned."

"We're too busy arguing to defund Planned Parenthood," she continued, "We are too busy withholding mercy from the living so that we might display a big spectacle of how much we want mercy to be shown to the unborn. Where is your mercy? Where? What is your goal?"

She went on to argue that pro-life activists sometimes take the easier route than those of born children within the foster system, describing anti-abortion protests as "activism that makes you comfortable."

The comment received condemnation from several pro-life advocates, including Students For Life of America President Kristan Hawkins, who took to Facebook to share her thoughts.

"So Intervarsity allowed this young woman to represent the Black Lives Matter movement and disparage the pro-life movement from the main stage," wrote Hawkins, "but then denied Students for Life of America's exhibitor application? So sad to see a leading Evangelical organization do this. I think a speaking invitation to the nation's largest pro-life youth organization is due for their next event."

Chelsen Vicari, the Evangelical Programs Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, also penned an op-ed for Life Site News arguing that Higgins "bashes a social justice movement that aides her cause."

"Deepening evangelicals passion for racial reconciliation is admirable, but need not come at the condemnation of the pro-life movement, a social justice movement all its own," she wrote. "Higgins might have mentioned to her young Christian listeners that within the pro-life movement is a unique and beautiful Black Lives Matter movement already in motion...Yes, Pro-lifers are busy working to ban abortion. We are busy working to defund Planned Parenthood. We will stay busy because we believe every life matters."

Vicari went on to quote the words of Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Director of African American Outreach with Priests for Life, who stated,  "Abortion and racism are evil twins, born of the same lie. Where racism now hides its face in public, abortion is accomplishing the goals of which racism only once dreamed...Together, abortionists are destroying humanity at large and the black community in particular."

Amid such backlash, Higgins took to Facebook on January 1 to clarify her thoughts on the issue: "To the so-called pro life advocates who send me pictures of my own children labeled 'aborted fetus': This is offensive, but I forgive you, but please stop," begins the message, in part.

"I abhor the slaughter of innocents," Higgins continued. "I abhor the execution of image bearers whose soul's status has not been revealed to us. I abhor the idea that ONLY babies are worth fighting for. When I fight for Sandra, Tamir, Mike, VonDerrit and others I am fighting for babies too. They are all somebody's baby. We are all God's babies."

She concluded, "I weep for the embittered; I weep against my own bitterness. I confess my hope for a justice as yet unseen in tension with the shackles of controlling outcomes, answering distracting questions that tempt me to doubt. I too am a sinner in need."

In turn, InterVarsity also released a statement explaining its inclusion of Black Lives Matter speakers, contending that while the organization does not "endorse everything attributed to #BlackLivesMatter," it believes in being "co-belligerents with a movement with which we sometimes disagree because we believe it is important to affirm that God created our Black brothers and sisters. They bear his image. They deserve safety, dignity and respect. InterVarsity believes all lives are sacred - born and unborn."

The statement also includes a quote from interim president Jim Lundgren, which reads, "Scripture is clear about the sanctity of life. That is why I'm both pro-life and committed to the dignity of my Black brothers and sisters."