Moral Leaders Speak Out

Quotations from two speeches given by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a physician who formerly participated in the death by abortion of up to 75,000 babies; Dr. Nathanson is now a tireless spokesman for the dignity and sanctity of human life, from conception to natural death.

"I am, in addition to being a physician, a bioethicist, a moral philosopher. I must tell you that autonomy, the concept of free choice, the concept of self-governance, has been elevated in recent years to a deified status. It trumps everything. If you want to crush your opposition, you [can] say, 'Well, I have a free choice about this. I don't have to listen to you or anyone else. I'm free and I can make my choice.' [Absolute moral autonomy] is where many, many of the social ills we have come from. It is the concept of choice, free choice cut away from all the normal bonds which tie it to our society. [True] choice is not made in a moral or ethical vacuum. A choice is made bearing in mind that we are all related, that we are children of God, that we have natural ties to our families and our church and our government and our nation and ourselves. And [our] choices must be made not in a vacuum, but with these things in mind."

"The central question then is, because we are capable of doing something technologically, ought we to do it? Must we continue to invent a new morality each time we have a new technological advance? Thomas Jefferson said, 'The question before the human race is whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by His own laws or whether innovators and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles. In the latter, lies only chaos, anarchy, and the death of the species. But in the former, salvation.' I say, what is wrong with the "old" morality, the Hippocratic Oath, the Ten Commandments (not the Ten "Suggestions"), the Golden Rule, the Sermon on the Mount, the Bible? Do we need anything else? We do not!"

Quotations from Pope John Paul II
Papal Encyclical, The Gospel of Life (Sections 70-71), 1995

"When a parliamentary or social majority decrees that it is legal, at least under certain conditions, to kill unborn life, is it not really making a "tyrannical" decision with regard to the weakest and most defenseless of human beings? Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus? Democracy cannot be idolized to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality. Fundamentally, democracy is a "system" and as such is a means and not an end. Its "moral" value is not automatic, but depends on conformity to the moral law, to which it, like every other form of human behavior, must be subject. In other words, its morality depends on the morality of the ends it pursues and of the means it employs…The value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies or promotes…The basis of these values cannot be provisional and changeable "majority" opinions, but only the acknowledgement of an objective moral law which…is the obligatory point of reference for civil law itself. If, as a result of a tragic obscuring of the collective conscience, an attitude of skepticism were to succeed in bringing into question…the moral law, the democratic system itself would be shaken in its foundations, and would be reduced to a mere mechanism for regulating different and opposing interests on a purely empirical basis…It is therefore urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential and innate human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person-values which no individual, no majority, and no State can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote…The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence and true justice…Precisely for this reason, civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person-rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being."

Pope John Paul II's comments to visitors from 171 nations, on May 18, 2000, the occasion of his 80th birthday

"The gift of life! Yes, life is a gift that results from an act of love. And, therefore, it must be welcomed with love. It must be respected, cultivated, promoted and defended by all means when it is threatened."

Statement by Joan Andrews in 1986, to trial judge who sentenced her to five years of solitary confinement in a maximum security prison, for having been found guilty of burglary in an attempt to unplug an abortion clinic's suction machine

"The rougher it gets for us, the more we can rejoice that we are succeeding. No longer are we being treated as are the privileged born, but [rather as are] the discriminated-against preborn. We must become aligned with them completely and totally, or else the double standard separating the preborn from the rest of humanity will never be eliminated. I do not want to be treated any differently from my brother or my sister. If you reject them, you reject me. We do not expect justice in the courts. Furthermore, we do not seek it for ourselves when it is being denied our preborn brothers and sisters. Thus, I plead a case for complete and total vulnerability in court by refusing self-defense and all legal argumentation for self-protection."

Statement by Father Jerzy Popieluszko to Solidarity supporters in Poland; Father Popieluszko was a Polish Catholic priest who was martyred on October 19, 1984. Communist authorities tied him up, beat and tortured him to death, and then threw his body, weighted down with stones, into the Vistula River. During the rise of Solidarity, Father Popieluszko had constantly urged his audiences to show the maturity and humanity of their cause by their refusal to be goaded into violence.

"Do not struggle with violence. Violence is a sign of weakness. All those who cannot win through the heart, try to conquer through violence. The most wonderful and durable struggles in history have been carried on by human thought. The most ignoble fights and most ephemeral successes are those of violence. An idea which needs [force] to survive dies of its own accord. An idea which is imposed by violence collapses under it. An idea capable of life wins without effort, and is then followed by millions of people."

Quotations from the legacy of Robert Casey, former Democratic Pennsylvania Governor, who died on May 30, 2000; Gov. Casey's name is attached to the famous case, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which upheld the legality of a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, informed consent for women seeking abortion, parental consent for minors, and detailed record-keeping on the abortion industry.

"We've got to bring passion to this cause, and we can't let the passion cool. We can never lose our sense of outrage. That's what it takes: "Outrage." We've got to say this to ourselves and to the people of this country, "How can they do this to America?"…We've got to be clear on our mission. The unborn child is at the center of the cultural debate. It's the most important social question, the most compelling and far-reaching civil rights issue…Its easy to let people put this out of their minds. We can't see the victims. They don't vote. They don't have names… They're kind of faceless. I've often said I wish that I could have met some of those [40] million kids that never got a chance to be born. I would have liked to have met some of them. I would have liked to have benefited from their idealism, and their energy, and their brilliance, and their strength. You talk about wasted assets. God help us! Its mind boggling. It defies comprehension to even think about. What is called for now is very simple… It's called leadership; moral leadership of a high order; gutsy leadership; tough leadership that doesn't back down, that keeps punching and fighting and persevering until the end is reached over time, as it will be. But [we need] leadership also with a strong dimension of generosity and understanding, sending a message of civility and respect for opposing views; a message that bespeaks a true sense of community. [We need] leadership that presents the protection of the unborn child as it truly is: an imperative that flows naturally from the historical social justice mission of America. You've got to continue to carry this message until it is reflected in the laws and the policies of our nation, as one day it surely will be; until we are once again a caring community that offers women solid alternatives to abortion and offers children and families the help that they need to have a real chance to live decent, happy, and healthy lives."

"In this country-the greatest and most powerful country in the world-every child deserves to be born. Since when did America write off and leave behind an entire class of innocent, vulnerable, and defenseless human beings?"