After the U.S. Supreme Court failed to strike down Roe v Wade when it last had its chance to outlaw abortion, Alveda King said she cried and wondered whether God had a plan.
"The answer was, it's not time," King told an audience of more than 300 Thursday at the Women's Choice Center banquet and fundraiser at the Davenport RiverCenter.
"I understood we were going to have to take the long road, and we're making progress," King said. "There are now more pregnancy care centers than there are abortion clinics."
An ordained minister, she is the niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
She told the stories behind her two abortions, a time when, she said, she believed women have the right to choose. A third abortion was stopped after she got pregnant by her then-boyfriend, and later husband, who was a medical doctor.
Now the mother of six children, King said she was born again in 1983.
Once a Democrat who served as a George state representative, King said she later became a Republican and then an independent. Soon, she said, she realized it was time to stop promoting one party's platform over another.
"God is not a Democrat, God is not a Republican and I don't think He has a tea party card," King said. "What's right is right, and we all must work to do what's right.
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"We must wake up," she said. "Young ladies don't need more access to abortions. They need access to an education, and they need to be taught morals and values."
The Rev. Dwight Ford, executive director of the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island, said King's message is one of redemption, that "we can be anything and do great things regardless of our mistakes."
"But we as adults have to let the youth today know that not all lessons have to experienced," he said. "We can learn from someone else's mistakes."
The Rev. Robert Wilson, who founded Risen Christ Ministry in Rock Island, said those who need help should be persistent.
"They should not take no for an answer," he said. "There are many people and many organizations out there willing to help and give hope."