Mother Theresa on America

Nathaniel Peters at the First Things blog quotes a friend of the court brief filed by Mother Theresa in a 1994 abortion case. An excerpt:

Your opinion stated that you did not need to “resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” That question is inescapable. If the right to life in an inherent and inalienable right, it must surely exist wherever life exists. No one can deny that the unborn child is a distinct being, that it is human, and that it is alive. It is unjust, therefore, to deprive the unborn child of its fundamental right to life on the basis of its age, size, or condition of dependency. It was a sad infidelity to America’s highest ideals when this Court said that it did not matter, or could not be determined, when the inalienable right to life began for a child in its mother’s womb.

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 domination 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. . . .

I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • CRB

    Relevant to this post, see this thought-provoking video:
    http://www.catholicvote.com/

  • Bruce

    “And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.”

    Theresa goes on to say she has nothing new to teach America, but this statement points to a new argument that runs counter to the pro-abortion argument that claims women have more control over their bodies than they had without abortion.

    She is saying that with no threat to pregnancy, women are MORE prone to be used simply as sexual objects by men “or other sexual partners”.

    The woman really articulates the big picture of what has happened to modern women the world over. It is not by any stretch as bad in America as in, say, Russia, where I’ve read that women of child-bearing age have averaged seven abortions. Christe eleison.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bruce,

    Could you direct me to any external sources where you found your data? I was not aware that Russian women averaged seven abortions. That’s an interesting statistic, and troubling, if it’s accurate.

  • Michael the little boot

    I can’t help wondering how it’s relevant to Mother Theresa’s testimony that she was a woman. She was celibate, as all nuns are, and so has no understanding or experience with sex or reproduction. Or relationships with “husbands or other sexual partners,” for that matter.

    Also, what about the women all over the world who are forced by their husbands to HAVE children? I would venture a guess (uneducated, I’ll admit) that this is a bigger problem throughout the world than women having too many abortions. It’s much easier for a man to rape a woman than it is for a man to force a woman to have an abortion.

  • Carl Vehse

    Michael, your red herrings do not change the fact that abortion is evil because it murders an innocent person.

    Whether Mother Theresa was a nun or a circus clown, her words on abortion are the truth.

    Rapes and other violence against spouses and children are also evils that should be attacked, but their existence does not excuse the existence of abortion.

  • Michael the little boot

    Carl,

    I wasn’t trying to say it’s not very bad. You can call it evil if you wish. I was asking some questions, serious questions. Questions which are not served by your constant sloganeering. Did you see that I asked about the data on how many abortions Russian women are having? I actually said “That’s an interesting statistic, and troubling, if it’s accurate.” Troubling. Look the word up. Sorry if the nuances miss you.

  • Michael the little boot

    Carl brings up an interesting point about abortion being evil “because it murders an innocent person.” So, would taking someone’s innocence away by any means also constitute evil? Like, say, telling someone a bunch of unprovable stuff is THE TRUTH?

    Oops. There I go with my own sloganeering.

  • Michael the little boot

    Carl again,

    “Rapes and other violence against spouses and children are also evils that should be attacked, but their existence does not excuse the existence of abortion.” You’re right. I was just saying many people focus on abortion as an evil to such an extent that they never think about the other evils. Abortion is the Christian’s pet evil, a favorite thing to hate. I’m just trying to highlight the simplistic thinking behind Mother Theresa’s myopic opinion.

  • Bruce

    Michael, this site does not give the average number per woman, but shows an abortion rate as high as 1 per 6 pregnancies–a rate that has lowered somewhat in the past ten years apparently, due to better access to contraception.

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5055/index1.html

    I don’t know what 1 per 6 translates into as “average per woman” but it is not improbable given that rate that seven abortions per woman might be low. I know that the former USSR relied very heavily upon abortion as a means of contraception and was slow to provide, shall we say, more efficient means. This is a great tragedy and has, I am certain, led to much suffering for these women–spiritually as well as physically.

  • Carl Vehse

    Michael, try focusing on the subject of the thread.

  • Bruce

    Here is more info on the Russian rate:

    “Although the availability of modern contraceptives is increasing, abortion remains the most prevalent means of birth control, and is on the rise. In six countries_Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, and Ukraine, there are more than 100 abortions performed for every 100 births. Russia continues to have one of the highest abortion rates in the world with 216.5 abortions recorded for every 100 live births. ”

    The source of this quote: http://www.worldbank.org/html/prddr/trans/so95/oct-ar1.htm

  • Bruce

    Michael: “I’m just trying to highlight the simplistic thinking behind Mother Theresa’s myopic opinion.”

    Clear up for me again why it is simplistic and myopic? Because she is a celibate woman? Because she lived in India? Because she was a religious? Because you’ve decided that abortion is a Christian’s pet evil? Huh? I’d appreciate a little clearer explanation of just what your beef is.

    I would think you’d be on board with a statement such as this: “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. . . .”

    If that had been said by a Humanist, I’m guessing you’d be calling it wise and farsighted. But I could be wrong.

  • fw

    #12 bruce and #8 michael

    gosh. here I have to throw in with bruce michael dear buddy!

    I do get your point Michael, that for alot of antiabortionists, human rights beyond mere existence seem to not be addressed with nearly the same gusto or audio level. agreed.

    I don´t think this is either or though. this is a “both and”. yet we all could do more to ponder and honor the sanctity of life all around. I would love to hear more conservatives decry the fact that our government tortures people and euphemizes it calling it “enhanced interrogation techniques” as just one of so many examples.

    If we all focused on abortion reduction measures, maybe we could save more lives? but then for purists, antiabortion measures seem like a cave in to a relativist stance.

    yet,all that being said: mother teresa is exactly right. and her insight about the founding of the american experiment are cool I think.

    what she did in her life and how she went about doing it with the last, the lost and the least in her society shows nothing of myopia michael. i would second bruce´s question to you here. with much respect!

  • Anon

    If Obama is elected he has promised to pass a law that will make abortion a ‘fundamental right’ thus making opposing it a crime against the civil rights laws.

    Doctors, nurses and pharmacists will be forced against their will to perform or assist in performing abortions, or lose their jobs and face civil rights charges.

    Pro-life crisis pregnancy centers will be closed, possibly by (mis)using the RICO laws the way the abortion power tried to do in the past.

    These alternate measures for reducing abortion will be mostly illegal.

    To vote for Obama is to participate in the brutal murders of over one million babies in America (disproportionately black – is this one place where the charge of racism really -does- apply?) for the remainder of our lives, and probably beyond as we will not be able to effectively teach our youth to be pro-life.

  • fw

    #14 anon

    I have been reading your posts for a good while now…

    Can you tell me one thing that you believe that ONLY a lutheran christian would say that he believes.

    I am having trouble believing that you are actually a lutheran.

    respectful and sincerely.

  • Carl Vehse

    When a person consistently uses “antiabortion” rather than “prolife”, claims to being a Lutheran may be suspect.

  • Anon

    That the Book of Concord is an accurate summary of the teaching of the Bible. :-)

  • Anon

    Other than that, if there were any teaching *unique* to Lutherans, not found in the Bible or in any of the ancient churches or shared with any of the protestant churches, then it would be a sect, and not the Evangelical Catholic movement of the Augsburg Confession, now would it?

    Luther was restoring the Church in the west to the universal faith, NOT creating a new religion.

  • fw

    #16 carl.

    why is that?

  • Carl Vehse

    It is also suspect when a person asks why consistently using “antiabortion” rather than “prolife” make claims to being a Lutheran suspect.

  • Norman Teigen

    The Supreme Court was not able to use the ‘when does life begin/at conception’ argument because not all people believe that to be true. The SC could not propose that this belief would have precedence in a secular culture because it would be contrary to the beliefs of those who do not hold to that opinion. It’s basic stuff that should not be too hard to understand.

  • fw

    #20 carl

    I AM anti abortion. I am also against the death penalty (even though I do not agree that people who still favor the death penalty and disagree with me are immoral at all. they simply disagree…) I am anti torture. I am in favor of whatever contributes to the health and wellbeing of a human life. from conception to death.

    i was not aware that using the term “prolife” and not using the term “antiabortion” is a litmus test for being a bona fide lutheran.

    does anyone else here have something to tell me about this since carl is not willing?

    or is carl being sarcastic or funny?

    anon: as far as i know ONLY Lutherans believe that 2 day old infants are actually given the gift of faith in jesus in their baptism. and that they are actually believers. I also believe that ONLY lutherans believe that in the Blessed sacrament there are 4 things present. bread, wine, body, blood. I also believe that only the lutheran church has only ONE single doctrine that they teach and that everything else is an “article” of that one single doctrine. there are also other teachings that are distinctively lutheran, such as the passive and active obedience of Jesus…. etc.

    we also believe , as lutherans , that mary is literally the mother of God. that it is ok to pray to the saints, it is ok to pray for the dead, and that good works are necessary.

    so ok.you say you accept the lutheran confessions. I have to accept that as true.

  • CRB

    #14 Anon
    I agree with the first part of your statement,
    “To vote for Obama is to participate in the brutal murders of over one million babies in America,” but fail to see the connection with racisim in your parenthetical
    remark: (disproportionately black – is this one place where the charge of racism really -does- apply?)
    Would you please explain? Thank you

  • Joe

    Michael – the reason MT did not address the other issues is because her statement was writtent to address abortion. It was not a complete picture of MT’s view of the evils in our world. It is not myopic to address only the issue being discussed.

    The the court case been a rape case perhaps MT’s brief would have addressed the evils of rape. But the main reason that she may have taken abortion as the issue to speak on is because it seems to be one of the few evils we have decided to make legal.

  • Anon

    CRB, Planned Parenthood to this day still has the eugenics motivation of its foundress, Margaret Sanger. Her goal was to eliminate the poor and the blacks by eliminating their young. She passed on that idea to a certain Austrian painter.

    PP still is happy to take contributions given for the express purpose of eliminating blacks. Blacks are vastly disproportionately aborted in this country.

    Some black leaders are aware of this. I don’t know if BHO is, but then he is only 1/16 black according to his Kenyan relatives.

  • CRB

    PP is totally evil, a tool of Satan. What I don’t understand is why do blackleaders, i.e. Jackson, Sharpton and other libs not denounce PP?!

  • CRB

    PP is totally evil, a tool of Satan. What I don’t understand is why do black leaders, i.e. Jackson, Sharpton and other libs not denounce PP?!
    Also, I have a hard time believing the BHO is not aware of this.

  • Anon

    Carl, true, but I had to give him the opportunity of the benefit of the doubt, however unlikely that is.

  • Anon

    I was directed to read this speech by Governor Sarah Palin at this site:

    http://catholidoxy.blogspot.com/2008/10/palin-attacks-on-abortion-in.html

    That is what is at stake.

  • Michael the little boot

    Carl,

    “Michael, try focusing on the subject of the thread.”

    Seriously? Carl? You do realize you bring abortion up no matter the subject of the thread, yeah? So I’m a black kettle, and you’re a black pot.

  • Michael the little boot

    Bruce @ 12,

    I don’t think “rights” are “every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity.” I think they are things we decide upon, and then have to work very hard to uphold. When we start calling them an entitlement, we lose the motivation to do the upholding, and usually (it’s been the case throughout history) LOSE said rights. Franklin said some stuff to this effect.

    “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…” I agree with that. If we’re going to uphold that, though, we have to start treating kids like they have a say in their own lives. Which would mean giving them the choice of whether to attend church or not, among other things…

    “If that had been said by a Humanist, I’m guessing you’d be calling it wise and farsighted. But I could be wrong.” You are. I tend to think pronouncements like this are just moralizing. They obscure the complexity of living and of life. I don’t find decisions that easy to make, and give others the leeway I would want when they make decisions for themselves. I would find this statement the same regardless of who said it.

  • Michael the little boot

    fw @ 13,

    “what she did in her life and how she went about doing it with the last, the lost and the least in her society shows nothing of myopia michael.”

    Um, well, I beg to differ. The fact that she was talking about abortion when there are bioweapons and nuclear weapons which could pretty much end ALL life is pretty much the definition of myopia. There are bigger fish to fry. It’s only by framing it as genocide and murder that the anti-choice set get morality on their side.

    When it comes to limiting choice, I find it to be one of the greatest evils. Do I think someone should have the choice to murder? Well, Frank, we have laws against murder in this country. Yet murdering continues. I don’t think if we changed the law, or got rid of it altogether, the stats would change that much. I’d be surprised if you, Frank, would murder someone if the law was rescinded. So, even though we have laws against it, murder is still a choice we all have. The fact that most of us choose not to murder has very little to do with the prohibition, I think.

    Not that anyone’s necessarily reading this thread anymore! Gone for three days, and what do you know…

  • Michael the little boot

    If anyone’s still reading this thread: I’m sorry for commenting and then disappearing for three days. I wasn’t neglecting anyone. Just home, no computer, plus I’m a public employee who gets Columbus Day off…

  • Michael the little boot

    Joe @ 24,

    I wasn’t meaning she should have addressed it in this writing necessarily. But any time she had the chance to talk about abortion, she did. She called it the greatest evil going on today. Only a nun who can’t see the forest for the trees (even though the tree she spoke of WAS and IS an important one) would characterize abortion in this way. So perhaps this one time she was addressing it appropriately; but I know what her opinions were, and I know what her actions were. She was definitely myopic about this matter.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon @ 25,

    “he is only 1/16 black according to his Kenyan relatives.”

    You are aware DNA doesn’t work like this, I would imagine. So why you’re spreading it is beyond me. You do get half your mother’s genes and half your fathers, but that doesn’t mean you get a quarter of each of your grandparents. You get whatever is in the half you get from each parent. It COULD be that it breaks down to a quarter of the genes of each grandparent, but that’s so improbable as to be non-existent. So Mr. Obama may or may not be 1/16 Kenyan. There would have to be an actual DNA analysis done if we wanted to talk percentages.

  • Anon

    Michael only because some posters here, and evidently many Americans consider Obama’s “blackness” a reason to vote for him. I personally believe that we are all one race; that Obama is the same race as I am. We are both decended from great^nth grandfather Noah. But for the racists voting for him for that reason, the geneology might be significant. That’s all.

  • Michael the little boot

    Anon,

    I see your point. I was just trying to tweak it a bit. If the racist naysayers wanted to say Obama’s not of African descent, they may actually have genetic reasons to do so. I don’t really see the point, but whatever. That’s their thing. I actually think it’s cool we may finally elect a president who isn’t white, even though I don’t think Obama will do us any good. But I think the system’s so broken, no president could – or should – be expected to fix it.


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