It was 1994, and Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast. In attendance were President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and their wives, Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore. And what was Mother Teresa’s central focus? The evil of abortion.
Ignored? Or conviction without change?
Talk about a divine setup.
She minced no words in her address as the Clintons and Gores sat stone-faced.
This is just part of what she had to say: “By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. [Abortion is] really a war against the child, and I hate the killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that the mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
She continued: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another but to use violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Was she exaggerating? Did she overstate her case?
My wife Nancy offered some poignant – and piercing – insights as we discussed the subject this week.
She drew attention to a recent article of mine which referenced the Democratic Party Platform of 1996. The platform characterized abortion as a “difficult issue,” because of which it is also stated that “we respect the individual conscience of each American.”
In response, she wrote, “Where in the world has that sentiment gone?”
Yes, contrast that sentiment, expressed in 1996, with the militant “Shout Your Abortion” spirit of today. Or with the frenzied attempts to keep Brett Kavanaugh out of the Supreme Court. Or with New York legislators celebrating the passage of their barbarous abortion bill.
Stripping ourselves of humanity
Nancy continued, “I believe that the abortion issue's greatest danger is not necessarily to the unborn, but to the living who are stripping themselves of their humanity by their own will. This is the love of many waxing cold and we have lost the understanding and comprehension of our value as human beings. We will become cold barbarians with little understanding of what we are actually doing to ourselves and our psyches. We think we are simply ridding ourselves of unwanted children but the loss is far greater and broader than that. Our humanity is thrown in the trash along with all the body parts.”
Exactly. With every baby part that is trashed, we are trashing a part of our humanity, a part of the image of God in us, a part of our essential personhood.
And while all of us who are pro-life recognize the horrific cruelty of abortion and its murderous effects on the unborn, we sometimes underestimate how much we are killing ourselves in the process.
As Nancy wrote to me, “The point is that with each nod of our head in agreement with this practice, we are slowly and imperceptibly destroying within OURSELVES what it actually means to be human. We are disposing of the God-breathed qualities and attributes that make us a special creation. It is destructive in the extreme by its insidious nature.”
Celebrating death instead of life
It is no surprise, then, that our culture now celebrates death in many forms, from extreme violence in movies to extreme violence in video games, and from a fascination with zombies to a fascination with vampires. And how many relatively clean, even family-oriented shows center on murder investigations and corpses? As a culture, we are surrounded by death.
Could this also factor into the rising suicide rate in America?
A 2018 article analyzing the data found that the most significant increase in suicides was among middle-aged, rural, white Americans, noting, “As the relative social and economic pressures on white, middle-aged, rural Americans have gone up, so has the acceptability of suicide. Once considered a dark cloud over society, suicide—in whatever form is takes—is becoming more commonplace in America.”
Perhaps this is related to our abortion-affirming culture, where life as a whole is further devalued? And might this also explain the trend to legalize physician-assisted suicide in America as well?
Only God knows the answers to these questions.
Unplanned consequences and seeking God’s mercy
But what can hardly be disputed is this (to quote Mother Teresa again): “Abortion kills twice. It kills the body of the baby and it kills the conscience of the mother. Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three-quarters of its victims are women: Half the babies and all the mothers.”
To repeat Nancy’s words, “We think we are simply ridding ourselves of unwanted children but the loss is far greater and broader than that. Our humanity is thrown in the trash along with all the body parts.”
After all, if we’ve fallen this far from 1996-2019, a period of fewer than 25 years, what will America look like in 2040 or beyond? Can we even imagine?
As I have closed many an article before, I close this one with the same words.
God have mercy.