I always found St. Gianna Beretta Molla one of the more difficult saints to accept.
St. Gianna’s fourth pregnancy was a difficult one. The doctors advised several courses of treatment that would have saved her, but would have killed her unborn child. She refused them. She carried the pregnancy to term and delivered a healthy baby girl, Gianna Emanuela, but, sadly, died several days later of an infection she contracted during childbirth.
When I first heard about her, I did not see the goodness of God, but a rather shocking tragedy. A good woman died a preventable death, her husband was left a widower, and her children left motherless. (Modern medicine would have likely saved her.) How could anyone see this as in any way good or holy? Was the Church so obsessed with the lives of the unborn that they could not see the value in the lives of the mothers?
But the story does not end there. You see, baby girls grow up. Sometimes they become doctors like their mother.
Babies don’t stay babies forever. They grow up. Sometimes they change the world.
Yes, occasionally babies grow up and do horrible things. But the pro-life position is that people are generally good. That new life is good. That, in general, each person makes the world a better place.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said she want to get away from labels of pro-life and pro-choice. I agree with her, because “life” and “choice” aren’t the real issues here.
To Ms. Richards and Planned Parenthood, the decision to have an abortion is one “that is deeply personal and often complex.”
Certainly an unplanned pregnancy is difficult with many surrounding problems and complications. But the pro-life response is “No, the decision of whether or not to abort is NOT complex. Life is GOOD. Every person has dignity. Every person has value. Every person has worth.”
And because every human life has dignity, value, and worth, choosing life and defending life is the right thing to do.
But this is not just out of concern for the unborn. Respecting the dignity of others upholds our own human dignity. Denying the dignity of others denies our own human dignity. A mother who facing a difficult pregnancy who chooses life not only affirms the dignity of her child, but affirms her own dignity. Choosing life for her unborn child can mean choosing life for herself.
St. Gianna loved her daughter and was willing to risk her life to give her child a chance. As a mother, she couldn’t make any other choice than to give her daughter life.
As scripture tells us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. St. Gianna is honored not because her life wasn’t valuable, but because it was, and that she was willing to lay it down so that her daughter could live.
So, no, those who oppose abortion do not hate women. Nor do we want to keep women oppressed as “breeders”, like in some dystopian science fiction novel. It is because we believe in the dignity and value of every child, AND every woman.