Pro-Lifers, Don’t Fall for This Sleazy Political Trick
The "Seamless Garment," by whatever name, is a pro-choice tactic and nothing more.
Imagine if you’d lost a close family member to violent crime, and devoted your life to combating that kind of crime, even started a national movement in honor of your loved one — and then some group came along that wanted to undermine your efforts, confuse your supporters and serve an opposing agenda. That group lifted your language, but twisted its meaning. It tried to look and sound like your organization, to the point of imitating its name — as if a beer company that specialized in selling kegs to college students started a group called Mothers Against Drunks Driving (adding a single “s” after the word “Drunk”), in the hope of draining support from the real, original group.
Well, all that is happening to me and my pro-life organization, right now.
A political flack is hijacking my group’s name and aping its rhetoric, to promote candidates and policies that will do little or nothing to protect unborn children from violence. First, let me give you the background.
As I’ve written here before, I lost a daughter to a forced abortion that neither I nor her mother wanted. I was only 17 at the time, but that tiny child’s death set the course of my adult life. I dedicated myself to fighting legal abortion — but not just abortion. Although I was then an atheist, I could see that Pope John Paul II was right about at least one thing: There really was a “Culture of Death” abroad in the West, one which reached back to Nazi death camps and total war against civilians, to Soviet gulags and China’s Cultural Revolution. Its tendrils also creep forward, to the growing acceptance of euthanasia, the abuse of frozen embryos, and the indiscriminate use of force in some of our country’s wars.
I knew that the case for Life was being made by good organizations, and I worked for some of those. But it seemed to me important that someone comprehensively address every state-sponsored threat to innocent life, so I started an organization called I Am Whole Life, and worked with pro-life thinkers to hammer out five core principles that society could adhere to, if we wish to protect innocent life and American freedom. I founded that non-profit group in 2007, and it has been covered widely in the media, including in the liberal American Prospect back in 2012. We have tried to deepen respect for Life in a wide variety of ways, including outreach missions to the homeless on the streets of America’s cities, trips to Darfur to dig wells for persecuted Africans, and activism on behalf of the victims of ISIS in Iraq.
I wrote and published a book laying out these Whole Life principles, The Race to Save Our Century. They are listed on my organization’s website. I have spoken at dozens of colleges (from Yale to Notre Dame) and hundreds of meetings, including the national March for Life, laying out these principles by name.
And now someone from the “Astroturf” organization Democrats for Life (it gets rolled out every election cycle, then disappears) is stealing my organization’s name and rhetoric. He is using it for a quite different purpose — to misdirect those who want to protect all innocent life from violence, and steer them toward a statist, globalist, utopian agenda. Instead of focusing clearly on direct attacks on innocent life such as abortion, euthanasia, torture and military or paramilitary violence, “Democrats for Life” operative Robert Christian is trying to dissipate the energy of pro-lifers in a hundred unrelated directions.
He makes this clear by essentially equating abortion — which is unambiguously evil — with “unjust social structures” (such as the free market) that allegedly cause “indirect threats to life, such as the absence of access to healthcare or food.” In other words, conservatives who oppose both abortion and Obamacare are hypocrites, no better than pro-choicers who at least favor socialized medicine. Christian goes on to muddy the pro-life waters even further, denouncing pro-lifers’ “simplistic focus on a single issue,” and insisting that the movement be “purified” by adopting his own views on how to save the environment, “empower women and girls,” and solve “global poverty.” That is what Christian describes, using the language from my own writings, as the “Whole Life Movement.”
Until we have fixed everything on Christian’s wish list, unborn children like my daughter will simply have to wait. In order to fix those things, we will just have to work with pro-choice globalists, and try gently to convince them that unborn babies are just as important as carbon credits and the DREAM Act. Interestingly, I have not seen any articles by Christian criticizing the environmentalist movement, or anti-poverty activists, or feminist groups, for neglecting the rights of the unborn. The criticism only goes in one direction: at pro-lifers, for not being “consistent,” because their policy views on prudential issues — such as the best way to combat poverty — don’t match up with Mr. Christian’s.
We have seen this kind of intentional misdirection before, especially in church circles. One of the most effective weapons that pro-choicers who claim to be Christians have used is the “Seamless Garment,” a slogan coined in the early 1980s by left-wing Catholics to give political cover to pro-choice politicians such as Edward Kennedy and Mario Cuomo.
Such public officials and their apologists would try to outweigh the moral gravity of a million dead children a year by throwing onto the other side of the scale prudential problems which could have many morally acceptable solutions, problems dressed up to sound confusingly like life issues.
When it comes to combating gun deaths or advancing public health, for instance, there is more than one morally defensible answer that people of good will could offer to the question of advancing the common good. The debate is over which approach is most prudent and practical. But state acceptance of abortion, like slavery or segregation, is not a multiple choice question: It’s a true or false. Either such practices are intrinsically good, or they are intrinsically evil. Of them Our Lord once said, “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Mt. 5: 37)
I am the father of a child — the name we gave her was Jessica — who was destroyed in an abortion. The doctor intentionally murdered her for money. I am deeply offended that political operatives such as Mr. Christian equate that evil with a thousand lesser things, such as arguable economic policies or pollution regulations. As a man who founded an organization in her honor which I meant to be her legacy — a poor replacement for the life she never got to live — I am outraged. I hope that pro-lifers are not confused by this latest fraud on the part of someone willing to cooperate politically with Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards.