The Catholic Church declared Mother Teresa a saint on September 4. St. Teresa’s profound respect for the dignity of each life, including the unborn child, is well-known. Less known is how closely sidewalk counselors and other direct-action pro-lifers can identify with her. In 1994, when told by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life about some of the legal persecution that pro-life people faced, she looked at him and said, “Father, if we had laws like that here in India, I would have been thrown in jail many times!” Following is one such incident recorded in the book, Love Until It Hurts: The Work of Mother Teresa and Her Missionaries of Charity by Daphne Rae (August 1981).
Letters have been sent to local gynecologists, hospitals and “nursing homes” (the euphemistic name for abortion clinics in India) to say that if an unmarried mother needs help and understanding, she can go to any of the Missionaries of Charity and she will be looked after—free of charge—while she is pregnant and until the child is weaned. In return the mother helps the nuns with the domestic chores. This way her friends or family need not know of her predicament. The girls wish the babies to be adopted and there is a waiting list of would-be adoptive parents. (Note—In her 1994 National Prayer Breakfast speech, Mother Teresa mentioned that they had already saved more than 3000 babies from abortion through their children’s home in Kolkata alone.)
Just before Mother Teresa went to Oslo to receive her Nobel Prize, she talked to me about abortion. She had been woken by a telephone call early that morning, to be told that an aborted babe had been left on the doorstep of the Mother House. She found the child unwashed and wrapped in some rags. She was grateful that it had been brought to her. She said that sometimes there were happy events and that one morning an anguished husband arrived and told her that his wife was about to have an abortion. They were very poor and it was hard to feed their growing daughters. His wife could not face the future, and had insisted that the only solution was to spend the few rupees they had in obtaining an abortion.
The husband was desperate and came to the Missionaries for help. Mother Teresa saw him and went immediately to the clinic with him. “We found that the wife was already on the table. If we had arrived a minute later, it might have been too late. I talked to her, and told her of the love of God and that she had been given a very precious gift. I told her that we would help her and be with her in times of trial. She listened to me and wept, then she stepped down from the table and the three of us walked out of the clinic.” Eventually a full term son was born to a very happy family—their first and very much wanted male child.
“[T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
— St. Teresa of Kolkata, 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C.
Personal Letter from Mother Teresa: This letter was received in 1995 by Joan Appleton, the founder of Pro-Life Action Ministries’ outreach to former abortion workers.