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NFL Player: Gun Violence, Abortion, Sex Trafficking All ‘Connected’

Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson (82) scores a touchdown against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 3, 2017, in Baltimore. (Al Tielemans via AP)

WASHINGTON – NFL player Benjamin Watson said school shootings, human trafficking and children losing their lives “before they get a chance to live” are tragedies that call for lawmakers and the general public to reassess how they “value life.”

“Anything we can do to protect life and understand that life begins at conception and ends at death; I mean, I think obviously we vote on different things and we have to respect what people desire, that’s part of the reason the laws are the way they are now, but any way we can protect life. A lot of the time when we talk about being pro-life, when you look at what’s happening in our country, when you look at the shootings, sex trafficking, you look at mass incarceration issues, you look at all these things, they are all connected, in my opinion,” Watson, who played for the Baltimore Ravens last football season and is currently a free agent, said during an interview with PJM at a recent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) conference on Capitol Hill.

“It’s all about how we value life and not just life before it’s born but also once it is here,” he added. “So for me, it’s always about taking a holistic view of it. So it’s not tied just to abortion, but it’s also about how we value life for those that are already here, as well – because I think when you do that, you also protect life before it’s born.”

Watson, who delivered a speech at the March For Life last year, said that 60 million children have been aborted since Roe v. Wade, calling it an “atrocity” that largely “happens in the shadows.”

“And since we can’t really see what’s happening, a lot of times, not just with this but with a lot of other things that are happening around the world, if we can’t see it, we somehow don’t feel like it’s urgent and important,” he said.

Watson, who plays tight end and began his career with the New England Patriots, said his goal is to bring more public attention to issues such as abortion, violence tearing apart local communities, sex trafficking and mass incarceration.

“This is tragic, what’s happening in these schools. It’s tragic what’s happening in our communities when it comes to any sort of violence and it’s tragic what’s happening to victims of, as I mentioned before, trafficking and those sorts of things – what’s happening around the world when it comes to these regimes in places like Syria and Nigeria and things like that,” he said. “And it’s also tragic what’s happening right around the corner from us in places where children are losing their lives before they get a chance to live it.”

Watson was asked how he responds to supporters of allowing women to choose to have an abortion.

“Science is showing us that the fetus has its own DNA, has its own dreams, has its own feeling and has its own genetic make-up. This is a separate entity that’s living inside of the mother, and so the more we learn from science the harder it is for us to say this is a blob of tissue and this is something that doesn’t have feeling or something that doesn’t have everything we have now while I’m standing here with you at 37 years old was in me when I was at that point,” he said. “Again, to me, when you look at it from that point of view, you have to admit this is its own entity. This is a human being that should have rights of their own to life.”

Aside from considering changes to gun laws, Watson said there are some unaddressed issues in the gun-control debate.

“We have to be willing to listen. We have to be willing to possibly compromise and maybe there is a time for there to be some sort of revamping of some of the laws,” he said. “I also understand that whatever the laws are we have to deal with the heart of man, which is evil, and which will take a weapon, a gun, a knife, whatever it is, and inflict harm on people and that’s a hard issue that has to be addressed as well.”

Watson also said society should examine the role of faith in the home and “challenge” each other to make it better rather than look to someone else to create laws.

“We also have to look at why people are doing what they are doing. As a culture, what does that say about us? What’s the indictment on our culture when it comes to violence; when it comes to how we deal with conflict; when it comes to how we reach out to those who are dealing with certain issues, who feel marginalized, who feel like outcasts, when it comes to in the home the role of faith in our homes and the roles that mothers and fathers play?” Watson said.

“We need to look at all that and challenge all of ourselves individually with how we can make it better, not just put it on someone else to make a law because that’s not going to solve everything,” he added.