Being an armchair pundit you get to see in general how the media covers a story. Even when they print the same article as other outlets they often also put their own headline to it. Today in a story on the canonization of Gianna Beretta Molla the headline read “Pope Canonizes Anti-Abortion Activist.”
I wouldn’t exactly categorize St. Gianna Beretta Molla as an Anti-Abortion Activist. She died in 1962 well before the passage of abortion laws in Italy in 1978. She was a doctor and specialized in pediatrics and gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and the poor.
In September of 1961, at the age of 39, Blessed Gianna was pregnant with her fourth child when physicians diagnosed a large ovarian cyst which required surgery. The surgeon suggested that Gianna undergo an abortion in order to save her own life. Gianna’s decision was prompt and decisive: “I shall accept whatever they will do to me provided they save the child.” She underwent the surgery but her fate was sealed. The following year, on Good Friday, Gianna was admitted to Monza Maternity Hospital. Her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was born the next day but Blessed Gianna expired seven days later, on April 28, 1962.
When a parent returns into a burning building to rescue a child and they die in the act, are they branded as a child activist? If a parent jumps into the water to rescue their drowning child and they die saving the child, are they branded as a child activist? No instead we see these stories in the light of a parents love. Parents in these situation did not chose directly to die, but instead were working towards saving their child’s life. When these stories appear in papers they don’t have the negatively charged headlines that Mollas’ case has gotten. Some pro-abortion groups have complained about her canonization because they say it means that the child’s life is worth more than the mothers. Of course these same groups preach that the child’s life should never inconvenience the mother. They in fact are the ones that hold one life as more important than another. This of course is not what the Church teaches.
“Every human being, even the infant in the mother’s womb, has the right to life immediately from God, not from the parent or any human society or authority. Therefore there is no man, no human authority, no science, no medical, eugenic , social, economic or moral “indication” that can show or give valid juridical title for direct deliberate disposition concerning an innocent human life – which is to say, a disposition that aims at its destruction either as an end in itself or as the means of attaining another end that is perhaps in no way illicit in itself. Thus, for example, to save the life of the mother is a most noble end, but the direct killing of the child as a means to this end is not licit…” (Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Italian Midwives, 10/29/51)
Again it is not an either/or situation but a both/and. Fr. Mateo had this to say on the subject.
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical on Christian Marriage (December 31, 1930): “What could ever be a sufficient reason for excusing in any way the direct murder of the innocent? This is precisely what we are dealing with here. Whether inflicted upon the mother or upon the child, it is against the precept of God and the law of nature: ‘Thou shalt not kill.'”
The words “upon the mother or upon the child” should be carefully noted. It is a calumny to say that the Church always prefers the life of the infant to that of the mother. Catholic teaching has always been that each life is inviolable and neither may be directly killed to save the other.
The principle that the life of both mother and child is sacred and inviolable is a life-saving principle. In the long run it saves many lives that might have been lost. Doctors who know they have no right to sacrifice either life are much more likely to find means of preserving both lives than are doctors who readily employ direct therapeutic abortion.
I find this to be most true that a doctor who fights for both lives will more likely save both. Here is a recent story that emphasizes the opposite of this point.
BILOXI, May 12, 2004, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Jacobina Surian Adams, 82, has died; she is survived by her daughters, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. One of those daughters would not be alive today if it had not been for her mother’s faith and courage.
In 1962, while two-months pregnant with her daughter Laverne, Jacobina was diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctors recommended an abortion. Jacobina refused and went on to give birth and defeat breast cancer. The Adams’ are devout Catholics and they credit their mother with instilling her faith in them. “As we were growing up, we never went into the car without saying the rosary,” said Laverne Burdine, the youngest daughter. “We never missed church.” (source)
Abortion activists who are always screaming about choice will at the same time decry the choice of now St. Gianna Beretta Molla.