Rotten.com has an amazingly harsh article on Mother Theresa. There are two main things it focuses on. The one it spends the most time on is their perception that she was willing to overlook certain abuses from people who treated her well – Indira Gandhi’s imposition of martial law in India in 1975, the son Sanjay’s program of sterilization for the poor, and the Haitian Duvalier regime given as examples. I’m sure there are other details involved, and I’m sure that she (like many people at the time, and similar to the way in which Castro and Chavez routinely have managed to pull the wool over idiotic hollyweird celebrities with more teeth than brain cells) was duped and would probably have said differently had she not been on the wrong side of the dog-and-pony show.
The second point on which it attacks her is the fact that, following the 1971 war which created Bangladesh, she called out for thousands of raped women not to abort the resulting fetuses. This is one of the ongoing items which tends to be a very hard question to answer: should abortion be allowed/encouraged for a woman impregnated as the result of rape?
The question itself lends a hint as to why it is so hard to answer. The circumstances – the rape, the condition of the mother following rape, the fact that the pregnancy will inevitably remind the woman of what happened in a very obvious way – are nothing but grotesque. Depending on one’s beliefs, the options are no less vile.
On the one hand, you might believe (as do most religions) that “human life begins at conception.” In this case, there are a few very ugly points to consider:
1 – Having to carry to term (or even just long enough for a caesarean or induced labor) means the constant reminder of what happened, which may drive the mother to self-destructive acts, possibly up to suicide.
2 – On the belief that the fetus deserves the full rights of any human being, and as a baby is innocent of the circumstances of its conception, ending its life is at worst outright murder and at best the killing of one innocent to try to save the life of another victim.
The question from this perspective then becomes: what is the risk to the mother, and what are the chances the fetus/baby can be carried to term and then given some form of a life (foster/adoption care, etc) to live?
On the other hand, you might believe (as a sizable portion of the population does) that human life begins at some arbitrary point; when the heart first beats, brainwaves first appear, “when it could survive outside the womb” (which keeps getting earlier and earlier as medical technology advances, and may eventually reach the point where an “artificial womb” could raise a human from zygote to birth without the need of a mother at all), or so on. In that case, the calculation inevitably turns to “get rid of it before it reaches that point, since it was forced into the mother against her will.”
To my perspective, none of the options are (at present time) particularly appealing. Bad choices tend to stem from bad circumstances, and these being particularly bad circumstances, I’m not sure that an agreement could ever be fully reached on the “right” thing to do in general. I don’t necessarily think that her calling out to try to prevent the abortions was either evil, or unjustified (especially by the teachings of her church). Neither am I fully convinced that removing the option entirely, especially for those who might be driven to desperate measures, is necessarily the wisest course.
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