AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

With tears in her eyes, Greta Thunberg recently stood before the United Nations and told the leaders gathered there that, by their inaction, they had stolen her dreams and her childhood.

She was pointing to the future - to her future and the future of her generation. Her argument was that by failing to address climate change adequately in the present, they were putting the lives of future generations at risk. Her argument was based on the assumption that we cannot judge present actions by their effect on the present, alone. They must be judged on the basis of the effect they will have on the future. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

One could, for example, look at a field full of newly planted saplings and wonder how they could possibly take in enough carbon dioxide and release enough oxygen into the atmosphere to make their existence worthwhile. They hardly even look like trees - just row after row of sticks!

But they are trees. That’s what their DNA says. Nurtured and left to grow, they will indeed become something that actually looks like a tree. In the future.

I would like to suggest that the same logic applies to abortion. There is a tendency in our culture to look at the early stages of human life, to focus only on the present reality, and then to discount the essential worth of that life.

“Well, it’s only a mass of cells,” some people say. “What does it matter if we destroy them?” But just as every cell of those saplings contains DNA that identifies them as trees, every cell among that “mass of cells” contains DNA that shouts “human!”, and barring some natural tragedy, the vast majority of those “masses of cells” will continue to grow and to develop until they do, stage by stage, begin to resemble you and me. That’s how life works. In fact, every person reading this article began their life as one of those little “saplings”, so to speak.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that the value of those tiny human lives is based solely on what they will grow to be. I am convinced that they have infinite worth from the very start. But I do think that focusing on their future, as Greta Thunberg has demonstrated, will help some people more clearly understand the awful consequences of abortions performed today.

By looking to the future, and not just at the present, it is clear that abortion does not simply end the life of a “mass of cells”. No, it ends the life of a one-year-old, taking her first steps. It ends the life of a two-year-old putting her first sentences together. It ends the life of a three-year-old playing with Duplo, and on and on. It literally ends childhoods and dreams.

When Michelle Williams spoke in glowing terms about abortion at the Golden Globes recently, she inadvertently exposed this awful truth. Abortion may have secured her future, but it stole her child’s future in the process. In fact, given the way that talent passes down the generations, it quite possibly ended the chance for her own daughter standing on that very same stage one day and receiving that very same award.

Last year, across the world, over 42 million human beings had their lives extinguished by abortion. It was, by a huge margin, the single biggest cause of death in the world. Some 42m members of the future generation were eliminated. Millions of childhoods and dreams were stolen.

If, like Greta Thunberg, we are concerned about the future generations, if we value their lives and their dreams, then surely we should be as committed to ending abortion as we are to battling climate change.

Or as Pope Francis says: “Concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient that may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?”

What do we learn when we compare climate change and abortion? That they are quite simply two sides of the very same issue.

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