The issue of abortion and the right-to-life movement can often elicit strong feelings from individuals with differing views.

We respect everyone’s right to their own opinions. We are concerned, however, with New Orleans City Councilwoman Stacy Head’s assertion that lamp post banners along St. Charles Avenue supporting the right to life for the unborn “negatively influence the perception of (her) civil liberties as a woman” and make her feel “discriminated against.”

Abortion is a tragedy in our country rooted in a history of attempts to control certain populations and beliefs about who is worthy to live or die. Every year, more black babies die in abortion clinics in Louisiana than the combined total of black deaths from HIV, cancer and heart disease. These babies are living beings who could potentially be leaders. But their futures are being wiped out daily by women who are making decisions in fear rather than in the context of fellowship and solidarity.

The banners along St. Charles Avenue are an effort to honor the children who deserve the right to life, the right to join us in the pursuit of a better and more inclusive community. Since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, millions of babies who might have created solutions to some of our most pressing community issues have had their lives terminated before they could take a breath. Those babies can never be retrieved by the mothers who made that tragic decision.

The banners affirm the right of babies in the womb to live until they are born and encourage women and men to choose life for their children — the children of our community. We suggest to Councilwoman Head that the 22-week-old baby in the picture on the banner is a being who, just like Ms. Head, has civil liberties. Ms. Head, like the female baby in the picture, was once a 22-week-old baby with a brain and heart, capable of feeling pain, who because of her mother’s decision to choose life is now in a position of leadership in the great city of New Orleans. Surely a picture that represents the preciousness of life does not really lead to feelings of discrimination, regardless of one’s feelings on the issue of abortion.

We acknowledge that images of the unborn are not what might ordinarily be seen on a public thoroughfare. We suggest, however, that the citizens of New Orleans, having survived natural disasters and economic and political challenges, are ready for a new boldness in approaching critical social issues. We believe our banners are nothing more than a celebration of the life that we all wish to enjoy to the fullest.

Kathy Allen

state director, Louisiana Black Advocates for Life

New Orleans