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May 18, 2004

Saint Molla - Pro Life Hero

A woman of such low self-esteem she figured the potential of her fourth newborn baby was already higher than her own. That was Gianna Beretta Molla. She had hairy underarms too most likely.

Well, perhaps that's a lotta unfair, but hey the Pope just made her a saint for refusing to terminate her pregnancy even though she pretty much knew God would kill her but save her baby because that made perfect sense to her that she would die in child birth. (The male equivalent of this by the way is Tony Randall).

CTV.ca reports it:
Gianna Beretta Molla was 39 when she died in 1962. She was a pediatrician living near Milan, Italy.

When she was pregnant with her fourth child, Molla was diagnosed with a tumour in her uterus. She was told that in order to survive, she would have to terminate the pregnancy.

For Molla, the answer was clear. "If a decision must be made between my life and the child's, don't hesitate. I insist you choose the child's. Save it," she's been quoted as saying.

Molla died a week after giving birth to a healthy baby girl. Since then, pro-life groups have been inspired by her decision.

"She was so close to her faith to her God she knew she couldn't make any other decision," said Father Patrick O'Dea of St. Aquinas Church.

Several pro-life groups have declared Molla their patron. In Vancouver, one activist bought a house next door to an abortion clinic and called it the "Gianna." It was used to hold weekly anti-abortion demonstrations.

But critics say canonizing Molla suggests the Roman Catholic church values the life of unborn children more than the well-being of women.

"What this is saying to women that you must carry a child through at any cost. And you will be supremely rewarded if you die by giving birth," said Joanna Manning, a former Catholic nun and pro-choice activist.

Still, Molla is considered a courageous symbol for those backing the Vatican's anti-abortion stance.

"She lived her marriage and maternity with joy, generosity and absolute fidelity to her mission," said the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Sainthood Causes, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, when Molla's canonization was approved last year.

Actually, my question is: where is Molla's daughter today? I'm sure someone's talked to her. It must be odd to have your mama declared a saint.

Update 11:16 I found a quote from her daughter here in a newsletter from the Knights of Columbus (PDF).

I'll point you to gianna.org and saintgianna.org but warning, they are full of pop-up requests for donations.

More about the daughter, who also became a physician, here and of course, the Google search here.