A weed, by definition, is just a plant in the wrong place. Dandelions on a green lawn and oak trees in an apple orchard are only weeds because the gardener’s wishes make them so. Last month, Canada legalized RU-486, the abortifacient drug sometimes known as “the human pesticide.” This lethal, murderous drug has no place in a civilized society; it is a means of medical homicide, a euthanasia of the unborn, and it will corrode our country by further normalizing the notion that life can be taken on a whim. As harmful as it is to the fragile bodies of our unborn children are the effects of this drug on our nation’s very soul.

Support for abortion has always depended upon denials and disavowals. The modern phenomenon of prenatal infanticide requires its advocates to advance the preposterous contention that life is not present in a pregnant woman’s womb, and the ugly, pseudoscientific euphemisms for the developing child that they employ are an insult to the intellect. But more pernicious than the outright lie about unborn life or the obfuscating language it necessitates is the logical contradiction that abortion creates: having coined a new category of non-person, when, exactly, does the life of the child begin? When should it enjoy the defense of those same laws that protect us from arbitrary murder? The American “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” points toward this problem: this legislation shields as full citizens those few and fortunate victims of failed infanticide—the miracle babies who turn the abortionist’s abattoir into a unwilling delivery room—from further murderous action against them. But what on earth were these survivors before? Are we to believe that life begins only because of an assassin’s ineptitude?

The corruption of intentional evil does not cooperate with our compromises. Once the humanity of the unborn child is arbitrarily abolished, it cannot be arbitrarily restored. There is no end point to the callousness that abortion cultivates; if life in the womb is not sacred, neither is life beyond it. Abortion teaches us to see each other in the same way that we do the child: as wanted or unwanted, valued only if we wish. And so the social body fractures into conflicting, dysfunctional organs while the origin of this division remains hidden from our view. The attitude is invisible but its effects are everywhere. For when the loudest call of conscience is hushed and the Maker’s ancient interdiction “Thou shalt not kill!” is shunned, how can the subtler promptings of the spirit reach us? To whom will the better angels of our nature speak? How can there possibly be peace in the world without peace in the womb first of all?

“He who has ears, let him hear” (Mt 11:15). Over the embryo, that single-celled exemplum of our species, the benediction of the Almighty broods. The embryonic human is simple like God is simple. Indeed it is at the moment of man’s creation, at the instant of his absolute youth, that he most resembles his Creator who, as Augustine said, is “younger than us all.” A particle of God, the burgeoning cell wherein soul and body are first joined is always like no other on earth, because each one—each person—begins a particular and unrepeatable journey of human life.

Yet at the earliest discernible moments of this journey, our country now makes possible its fatal interruption. Pregnancy tests will now be followed by trips to doctors for fatal prescriptions that will be filled by facilitating pharmacists, complicit in the killing of innocents. Through violent and lethal exile, nascent children will now be expelled from their only homes. This is not only a violation of the closest and most sacred bonds of family but also a breach of the medical profession’s oldest pledge. The Hippocratic Oath reads: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”

Murder can occur in the most unsuspecting places: in the hearts of those who seek exceptions to God’s rule, in the professional lives of doctors and healthcare workers who turn these exceptions into actions, and in the bodies of pregnant women who have abortionists extinguish the growing life within them. But while it may not always be public, murder is always punished as the curse of Cain attests. How can a country which tolerates such evil ask God, as we do in our national anthem, to “keep our land glorious and free”? What will become of us if murder becomes casual and commonplace? How long can a nation of fratricides survive?

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, chiding the anti-child mindset of the developed world, once asked: “How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” In doing so, she reminds us of exactly what we trample when, in our sickness of selfishness, we choose to see a weed in a fruitful mother’s womb.