The Catholic Church considers abortion to be murder of an innocent human being, and an unspeakable evil – and so some people might be surprised that a woman who is being seriously considered for sainthood also had an abortion.

New details have recently been released about the abortion that social activist and Catholic convert Dorothy Day, whose cause for canonization was opened by Pope John Paul II, underwent prior to her conversion.

While it is public knowledge that Day had an abortion during her days as an agnostic and social radical, the activist tended to be private about the experience, and apparently never spoke publicly about it.

But in an article in America, Day is quoted telling Daniel Marshall, a longtime member of the Catholic Worker movement, about the horror of the experience. The author of the America article, James Martin, S.J., says this is the first time this conversation with Marshall has been made public:

Then Dorothy said, “You know, I had an abortion.  The doctor was fat, dirty and furtive.  He left hastily after it was accomplished, leaving me bleeding.  The daughter of the landlords assisted me and never said a word of it.  He was [anarchist activist] Emma Goldman’s lover; that’s why I have never had any use for Emma.”

Day was well-known for her stance against abortion, but her harsh words also extended to something many in the pro-life movement consider harmless: birth control.

When the topic of genocide came up an interview with Hubert Jessup in 1974, six years before Day’s death, she lumped the contraceptive craze as a eugenic bedfellow with abortion, suggesting that they together defined an age of mass murder:

J: What do you think about genocide?

D: Well, we’re living in an era of genocide. ...

We do believe that there is…not only the genocide of war, the genocide that took place in the extermination of Jews. But the whole program - I’m speaking now as a Catholic - of birth control and abortion, is another form of genocide.

There’s many theories about birth control, many theories about a population going to seed when they’re poverty stricken - a neglected orchard, for instance - it goes to seed … and, so, they claim the poor are bringing forth tremendous numbers of children, and the “solution” is to kill them off - the seed that is dead seed - by whatever methods they use: whether it’s intra-uterine devices, or the pill - about which they’re very dubious.

But, I’m just saying that, when it comes to Mexicans, and Filipinos, and the Blacks in this country- they’re the ones who are multiplying. And, a great many of them believe that this is - the educated too - that the whole program of birth control and abortion, is a way of keeping down the population of the poor.