In 1994, Mother Teresa submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court about abortion in America. (For context, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that allows late-term elective abortions for any reason.)
America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation.
The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men.
It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships.
It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society.
It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience.
It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters.
And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.
Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.
In their new book, Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis comment:
Mother Teresa is correct: the individual’s right to life does not depend on our consent, but the brutality of abortion is possible today because enough citizens have agreed, either implicitly or explicitly, to close their eyes to the truth about what abortion is. That truth is almost too painful to acknowledge, and many have learned to look away instead.
We talk about abortion with euphemisms such as “women’s rights,” “reproductive freedom,” “bodily autonomy,” and the “right to choose.”
But the right to choose what?
Rarely in our public debates do we argue about what abortion is. No one who supports abortion wants to talk about what really happens in every abortion procedure, because that reality is grisly and horrifying. It can persist only when we refuse to acknowledge this violence and the many ways that it damages our society and our solidarity with one another.
For a typical American who doesn’t spend much time thinking about abortion, consider what it would mean to admit that, for the past fifty years, our country has legally sanctioned the killing of more than sixty-five million human beings.
Think of the millions of women who have had abortions, many of whom did so based on misguided conceptions of freedom and autonomy, but many of whom did so because they felt pressured or abandoned. Large numbers of both sets of women have suffered physical harm and psychological trauma as a result, and yet they struggle to give voice to those harms in a culture that claims abortion is either no big deal or a cause for celebration.
Consider the relationships and marriages blighted by abortion, women used and abused by men, children who lost a sibling, grandparents who never got to meet a grandchild. No family has ever been better off because of abortion.
Think about the doctors who performed these abortions, who used their medical expertise to kill the vulnerable patient in the womb. It might be difficult to feel sympathy for them, but how can a person perform abortions and not be harmed by having committed such an evil? As Aristotle teaches, we become what we do. Those who kill become killers.
Think of the countless politicians and activists who have enabled and promoted abortion, pretending it is a simple, harmless medical procedure, akin to having a tooth pulled.
Think of those who have done nothing to stop this terror.
Think of those—ourselves included—who haven’t done enough.
These are the costs of admitting the truth about abortion, just a small part of why many prefer to turn away and pretend it isn’t true at all. But acknowledge it we must, because ignoring it will only make the problem worse. All of us are affected by the lethal logic of abortion. A society that endorses abortion devalues the life of every single member, as it allows mothers to destroy their children and sanctions violence against the most vulnerable members of the human community. Each of us enters life dependent on our families, particularly on our mothers, and though our level of dependence fluctuates throughout the course of our lives, we remain dependent on one another. A healthy society doesn’t deny or try to eliminate dependency; it helps people meet the needs of their neighbors and bear one another’s burdens.
You can find the Anderson/DeSanctis book here: