October 23, 2017
Standing Tall: Mother Teresa and Her Defense of the Unborn
One of our most faithful supporters recently told us of the indelible impression made upon him by the speaker at his 1982 graduation ceremony from Harvard. That speaker was Mother Teresa, whose diminutive stature—standing only 5 feet tall—provided a stunning contrast to her towering courage. There, at one of the most liberal institutions on earth, this fearless little nun spoke up for the unborn. “It is something unbelievable that today a mother, herself, murders her own child, afraid of having to feed one more child, afraid to educate one more child. This is one of the greatest poverties. A nation, people, family that allows that, that accepts that, they are the poorest of the poor.”
As reported by the Harvard Journal, “Mother Teresa spoke with almost mesmerizing conviction; her excellent English had an accent and cadence compounded of her native Yugoslavia and India. What she said struck many listeners as anomalous in Harvard Yard on Class Day, but she received a long, standing ovation from the unusually large crowd come to hear a saintly woman.”
Protection of the unborn has been a pillar of our work from the beginning of IOF some two decades ago. Our Geneva Declaration at the 1999 World Congress of Families states: “The intrinsic worth, right to life and sanctity of life of every human person exists throughout the continuum of life, from fertilization until natural death. Every human life is a gift to the person, the family and society.” Since then we have continued to defend the unborn as we have united and equipped leaders worldwide, and lobbied directly in partnership with colleague organizations, to fulfill United Nations mandates to protect the family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” and to provide children with the “special safeguards and care [they need], including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
Our most recent effort to protect the unborn also looks to Geneva, location of the Human Rights Committee, to which we have submitted a statement urging the committee to remain faithful to the intent of a major UN treaty. Meanwhile, Mother Teresa’s example beckons us all to join her in defending, in her own words, “the most vulnerable among us,” whose rights, as she told the United States Supreme Court, must be protected: “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.” Please join us in defending the inalienable right to life of the most vulnerable among us.
—E. Douglas Clark
IOF Director of UN and International Policy