Some Tough-Minded Questions for Tenderhearted ‘Seamless Garment’ Pro-Lifers

By John Zmirak Published on November 10, 2018

They don’t use the term “Seamless Garment” much anymore. The invention of flamboyantly pro-gay and left-wing Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, that phrase lost its luster the fiftieth time some pro-choice Irish- or Italian-American politician used it to burnish his Catholic credentials during a campaign. To hide her support for killing children to suit our sexual convenience behind the promise of more cash for Medicaid, or extra food stamps. 

Here’s how Wikipedia spins this leftist, pacificist Catholic movement, in its softball entry  on the topic:

The seamless garment philosophy holds that issues such as abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, social injustice and economic injustice all demand a consistent application of moral principles that value the sacredness of human life. 

In practice, this rhetoric serves people in high positions at rich Catholic organizations that claim pro-life credentials. They insist that you can’t oppose intentionally killing children, unless you also sign on to a very long list of very specific policies. Which always somehow turn out to be leftist. To grow the federal government. To garner hundreds of millions of dollars for left-wing, nominally Catholic groups such as Catholic Charities or Catholic Relief Services. (Last year, forty percent of the U.S. Catholic bishops conference budget came from such taxpayer-funded contracts.) To cast Uncle Sam as a messiah who will dry every tear, and wipe each runny nose.

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These people have cast about for a new, less tainted phrase to use to describe themselves. Some tried to steal “Whole Life” from my old friend Jason Jones. He coined the term to mean comprehensive respect for human rights and dignity. Not, you know, a laundry list of free stuff and services for bored government employees (or Catholic contractors) to dole out to future voters.

Others use the term “consistent life ethic.” They strive to seem holistic, and to cast those of us who actually want to, you know, outlaw abortion, as single-issue cranks. We’re not sophisticated, you see. We don’t want to get to the root of the problems underlying abortion. We just want to treat the symptoms.

Keep Abortion Legal but Make it “Unthinkable”

That was the message of self-styled “New Wave Feminist” Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, when she jumped on the doomed campaign of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke for Senate. She went so far as to endorse the 100 percent pro-choice candidate just a few days before a close election. Here was her logic:

This idea of eliminating abortion by simply making it illegal is far too low of a bar to set. Abortion must become unthinkable and unnecessary if we want to eradicate it from our culture. And the only way that will happen is by creating a post-Roe culture while Roe still stands.

Abortion becomes unnecessary when women have so much support from within their community that the one violent choice never even becomes an option in their minds. Abortion becomes unthinkable when women of color realize that having their children will not cost them their own lives because we have men like O’Rourke actually addressing the disproportionate number of minorities and children dying during childbirth.

You want women to stop feeling pressured into abortion? Then start by addressing the very things that lead so many of them to that desperate choice in the first place.

I’ve dismantled arguments like hers before. Rather than repeat myself, let me point you to just one piece. Okay, maybe just two.

I’ll assume for the purpose of argument that De La Rosa is sincere. That unlike Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and R.F. “Beto” O’Rourke, she actually opposes abortion. Thinks that it’s killing. And I’ll pose some questions for people like her to try and answer for themselves.

Would you say this about slavery?

Would you have tut-tutted at Abolitionists who wanted to outlaw slavery? Told them they were fixated on merely a surface problem? That we should leave slavery legally in place, while working for a world where it was not illegal but “unthinkable”? Would you have focused government efforts not on forcibly freeing slaves, but compensating slave-owners? Or importing new cheap, free labor — to take away the “root cause” of slavery, as in the need to have someone cut the cotton cheaply? Would you have demanded we root out racism first, before passing the 13th Amendment?

If not, why not?

Can You Name Anything That Isn’t a “Life Issue”?

The favorite argument of Seamless Garment workers is that there are many, many “life issues” of equal weight to abortion. The almost implausibly witless Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago made such a claim. In fact, he greeted the news that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts for profit with the following gem of moral analysis.

[W]e should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

So we can’t condemn human organ traffickers unless… we adopt the Cardinal’s solutions to a very long list of other problems. We have to offer limitless free medical care, at taxpayer expense. Open the borders to all comers. Solve racism. Eliminate all economic inequality. Take every citizen’s guns. And stop executing murderers. Only once we’ve met every demand on that ransom note will the Cardinal agree that we can’t kill babies. Huh.

Would you have focused government efforts not on forcibly freeing slaves, but compensating slave-owners?

I don’t think he goes far enough. Don’t we have to solve climate change? Eliminate misogyny in the Muslim world? End human-trafficking? Cure cancer?

Those affect human life too. In fact, every single political issue does. That’s why we argue about politics.  

Is there any issue trivial enough that people like De La Rosa wouldn’t consider it equal to killing babies? Wouldn’t say that we need to embrace government coercion and redistribution to solve it first? If so, I wish she would name that issue.

I’ll wait. I’ve got lots of time.

Are you sure about the root causes of abortion?

De La Rosa seems pretty sure she knows what lies at the root of abortion. It’s economic deprivation. But is that really true? Because I have another theory. Are you ready?

It seems to me that abortions happen because sexual intercourse is pleasant. But it sometimes results in pregnancy. And men are naturally (as feminists endlessly tell us) inclined to pressure women for sex without commitment. But they don’t always want to man up. To support the women they impregnate, at least financially. Our culture blasts the rather obvious message “Sex is fun” into our heads almost 24/7. Groups that target children like Planned Parenthood encourage sexual experimentation (and ample perversions) at ever younger ages. Churches that discourage premarital sex get constantly ridiculed, and harassed by the government.

Maybe the root cause of abortion is … men pressuring women for sex. And women saying “yes” when they should mean “no.”

Do you want to dig down that far, and fix that problem at the root? Maybe by promoting chastity? Enforcing child support more ruthlessly? Banning porn? Promoting marriage?

I don’t think “Beto” is on board with that.

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