Flashback: Mother Teresa Challenges the Clinton Administration on Abortion Policy

Mother Teresa of Calcutta will become a saint in the Catholic Church on Sunday. The Nobel Peace Prize winner known for her lifetime of service to the poor will be canonized by Pope Francis in Rome.

In 1994, Mother Teresa was invited by the Clinton administration to speak at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. As she spoke to those in attendance — including then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton — she delivered a heartfelt address urging the United States to “stop the killing” and change its abortion policy.

Mother Teresa prepares to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C., Feb. 3, 1994. President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Howard Heflin (D-Ala.), center, look on. While speaking, Mother Teresa issued a stern rebuke to abortion rights advocates saying "abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another." At far right are Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)
Mother Teresa prepares to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Feb. 3, 1994. President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Howard Heflin (D-Ala.), center, look on. While speaking, Mother Teresa issued a stern rebuke to abortion rights advocates saying “abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another.” (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)

“The 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,” Mother Teresa said:

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want,” she continued.

She expressed dismay that many who are rightfully concerned about children living in poverty “are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers.”

“And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion, which brings people to such blindness,” Mother Teresa said, arguing that the child “is God’s gift to the family:”

Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things — to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.”

We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

“Please don’t kill the child,” she said. “I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.”

Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, wrote that Mother Teresa’s remarks were met with “cool deep silence in the cool round cavern for just about 1.3 seconds”:

And then applause started on the right hand side of the room, and spread, and deepened, and now the room was swept with people applauding, and they would not stop for what I believe was five or six minutes. As they clapped they began to stand, in another wave from the right of the room to the center and the left.

“But not everyone applauded,” Noonan continued. “The president and first lady, seated within a few feet of Mother Teresa on the dais, were not applauding. Nor were the vice president and Mrs. Gore. They looked like seated statues at Madame Tussaud’s. They glistened in the lights and moved not a muscle, looking at the speaker in a determinedly semi-pleasant way.”

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