Mother Teresa on Abortion edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez Balado
The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “One Heart Full of Love,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado.
One day after Mother Teresa received her Nobel Peace Prize on 10 Dec 1979, she gave a talk in Oslo, Norway:
1. Abortion Destroy Life (80-82)
I think that abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace today because it is war. It is killing. It is a deliberate and calculated murder carried out with the mother’s collaboration. We read in Scripture what God clearly says about this: “Even if a mother should forget her child, I shall not forsake you. You are in the palm of my hand.” God has us in the very palm of His hand. And that is what strikes me. Even if a mother could forget her child which seems impossible, “I will not forsake you.” Today abortion is the greatest and most effective destroyer of peace.
We were wanted by our parents. We wouldn’t be here if our parents hadn’t wanted us. We want and love our own children. But what happens to millions of other children? Many people are concerned about children in India and Africa where many die from malnutrition or starvation or other causes. But there are millions who are dying with the express consent of their own mothers.
There is simply no greater destroyer of peace in our day. If a mother can kill her own child, what is the difference with my killing of you or your killing of me? There isn’t any! In India and everywhere else, this is my fervent plea: Let’s save the children!
This is the International Year of the Child. What have we done for our children? At the beginning of the year, whenever I had the chance, I spoke out and said: “Let’s make this year in which every child, born or yet to be born, feels wanted. The Year of the Child is coming to an end. Have we managed to make children more wanted and loved?”
I am going to talk to you about a surprising event. We are fighting abortion with adoptions. We have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. We have sent word to all the clinics, the hospitals, and the police stations: please don’t destroy the baby. We will take care of him. That way, at any hour of the day or night, there is usually someone who comes. Quite often it is a single woman who calls us, knowing that we will take care of her baby and find him a good home. We have a large number of couples who are childless, which is a blessing from God. They can adopt the babies who are in need of a home.
We are carrying out something else that is very beautiful. We are teaching natural family planning to our beggars, our lepers, our slum dwellers, and our homeless street people. In Calcutta alone, in the last six years (I repeat that in Calcutta alone) we now have 61,273 less children in our families than would have been the case precisely because they have practiced the natural method of abstinence and self-control. And they have done so without sacrificing their love for one another. The method we teach them is very beautiful and simple.
Our poor understand it. Do you know what many of them have told me? “Our family is in good health. We are united and we can have a child whenever we want to have one.” It’s that clear and straightforward for these people who lived in the street. I believe that if our people can do this, how much more can all the rest of us! We can use the means of natural family planning and decide not to destroy the life that God has created in us!
The poor are such great people! They can teach us so many beautiful things! The other day, one of our poor came to thank us. He said, “You people, who have taken the vow of chastity, are the best ones to teach us natural family planning. That’s because it isn’t anything but self-control without forsaking our love for one another in marriage.” I think he said something very beautiful.
Yet these are people who sometimes have nothing to eat and many times have nowhere to live. But they are still great people! The poor are marvelous people.
2. The Poverty of Abortion (11-12)
That is real poverty, but abortion causes a greater poverty. This is where your intervention is needed, too. You who have received so much love show your love by protecting the sacredness of life. That unborn child has been created in the image and likeness of God. God’s life is present in that unborn child. There are those who destroy life because they are afraid that they will have to sacrifice to feed and educate one more child. They make the child die so that they can live more comfortably.
This is where you must sow love. The sacredness of life is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. You who have received so much love share it with others. Love others the way that God has loved you, with tenderness. And pray for us.
3. A nation that allows abortion is a very poor one (41-42)
An incredible poverty exists today. Unborn children are aborted because they are unwanted. Children die in their mother’s wombs because they are unwanted. A nation that allows abortion is a very poor one. A mother who is capable of killing her own child only because she is afraid of having another one is poor indeed! She is afraid of feeding one more child and educating one more child. She prefers to have another television set or an automobile instead. A child condemned to death for that! Nevertheless, we read in Scripture: “Even if a mother should forsake her child, I will not forsake you. I have you in the palm of My hand.”
If a mother can kill her own child, how long will it be before we start to kill one another? We should not be surprised when we hear about murders, deaths, wars, and hate in the world today. Don’t ever allow even one child, born or unborn to be unwanted. Let’s go with our Lady to search out that child and take him or her home.
4. The Crime of Abortion (31-32)
Many of our children are unwanted and unloved. They need someone to care. The problem that worries so many people today is not the fact that the world is beginning to be over populated. What we are beginning to see more and more is that there are people who are trying to prove that God’s providence cannot provide for all the children yet to be born. In my opinion, if abortion is allowed in the rich countries that have everything that money can buy, then those countries are the poorest among the poor.
In such countries, I would like to open homes for unwanted children, so I could welcome them and provide for each one of them. We have many such homes all over India. The wonderful thing is that each child, who has been able to escape death at the hands of his or her own parents, has found a home with new parents.
Just last year in Calcutta, we started a campaign to prevent abortions through adoptions. And thanks be to God! We were able to give many children, who would have died otherwise, a father and mother to love and care for them. For us in India, that is something wonderful, because those children are untouchables by law. That is what is so wonderful about our people. They are willing to adopt and offers home to these unwanted children, to surround these suffering images of Christ with affection.
As for countries that have passed laws that allow abortion—for those who consider it something natural and all right—we must pray for them. Their sin is great. It is a crime.
5. Adoption as an Alternative to Abortion (33-34)
When we were invited to care for the young women of Bangladesh who had been raped by soldiers, we saw the need to open a home for them. We had to face many serious difficulties because sheltering women who had been raped went against both Muslim and Hindus laws. I repeat that we were faced with many serious difficulties. But once the Mujib (the prime minister) said that those young women were heroines of the nation—who had fought to save their purity and who had fought for their country—the girls’ parents came to take care of them. In many cases, young men offered to marry them.
Then it occurred to some people to perform abortions on those women who had been raped and were found to be pregnant. So we had to wage a tremendous struggle against those who favored abortion. I told these people that our young women had been violated, that they had been forced against their will, that they did not want to sin, “Whereas, what you are trying to force them to commit is a transgression that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” I said. “They will never forget that they were mothers who killed their own children.”
Thanks be to God! The government accepted our proposal. The women were told that each child who was to be aborted should be taken to the house of Mother Teresa. There they would receive care. And of the forty children that we have received, more than thirty have been adopted by wonderful families in Canada and other countries. This is a concrete example of how we have prevented abortion through adoption.
6. Abortion in English Society (114-116)
Q: What other observations have you made about English society during your visit?
A: Another thing that I sense is that in England people find it hard to take into account the lives of little children, of unborn children, because they are trying to avoid them.
Q: Are you referring to abortion?
A: Yes, that is what I am referring to. People are trying to be free to live their own life by destroying life. For me, this is a painful sign that either the country is so poor that it cannot care for the lives that God has created, or that people are making a tremendous mistake.
Q: Would you prefer that abortion were illegal?
A: I don’t want to talk about what should be legal or illegal. I don’t think that any human heart should dare to take life, or any human hand be raised to destroy life. Life is the gift of God in us. The life of God is present even in the fetus. We don’t have even the slightest right to destroy a life, whether it is that of a child, a man, or a woman. It’s all the same. I believe that the cry of these children, these ones who are never born because they are killed before they even see the light of day, must offend God greatly.
Q: How could society take care of so many children if all of them were born?
A: Jesus said that we are much more important to His Father than the grass in the field, the sparrows, or the lilies of the field. If He takes care of things such as these, which are only things, how much more would He care for our lives! He will not deceive us. Life is the greatest gift that God has bestowed on human beings. Since human life is created in the image of God, it belongs to Him. We have no right to destroy it.
(An interview with Ralph Rolls on 15 Jan 1973 for the BBC for a program entitled Belief and Life)