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Dawn Stacey M.Ed, LMHC

Celebrating Martin Luther King and Personal Liberty

By January 20, 2014

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On January 20, we have the honor of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year in to honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday - January 15. President Reagan signed legislation creating the holiday in November 1983 as campaign for a federal holiday in King's honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. This is one of only four US federal holidays to commemorate an individual person. King was best known as being the spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.

This day should remind us how fortunate we are to live in a time where our personal freedoms are protected. This is especially true when it comes to our reproductive choices. On Martin Luther King Day, we celebrate our liberty - this is a time that can also serve as a reminder that we have choices over various contraceptive methods, so we have the power to manage our fertility and prevent unintended pregnancies.

It is also interesting to note that influenced by Dr. King and the 1960's civil rights movement seeking equality for black Americans, women's rights organizations began to see abortion reform as an important step in the quest for equality of the sexes. They believed that women needed control of their bodies if they were to have control of their lives. Under the banner of reproductive freedom, these groups began to demand revocation of state abortion laws - ultimately leading to the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case which secured women the freedom of choice when it comes to their bodies. So on this Martin Luther King Day, let's just spend a moment or two reflecting upon all the freedom we have in our lives and honor all those who have fought so hard to secure these liberties for us all.

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Photo Courtesy of Dick DeMarsico/Library of Congress World Telegram Division

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