May/June, 1997 Volume XII Number 6 - COMMENTARY

Don't feed the hand that bites you
by Mark Crutcher

The traps which pro-lifers fall into can always be classified in one of three categories. The first are those that are set for us by the pro-aborts. Most of the time they are so overt that they are easily recognized, and the pro-life movement generally handles them pretty well.
A second class of traps are those which we set for the pro-aborts, but which backfire and catch us. One example is this utterly absurd campaign to outlaw D&X (partial-birth) abortions. I've discussed this issue in recent editions of this newsletter so I won't rehash the details here. I will say that the sheer irrationality of this effort convinces me that hidden agendas are at work which have little or nothing to do with stopping abortion.
A third class of traps we seem to fall into are those which are created for us by the pro-aborts, but require our cooperation to work. The most notable of those are called Common Ground and The Seamless Garment. And unfortunately, pro-lifers continue to fall into these traps.
The Common Ground effort is based on the concept that pro-aborts and pro-lifers should sit down together and agree to ignore the issues upon which they will never agree, and discuss those areas which they could find some mutual goals. Common Ground promoters speak in warm fuzzy tones, saying things like, "We may not agree on every issue, but we can sit down and look for ways to reduce the need for abortion. We both agree that every abortion is a tragedy and that the key to solving this problem is reducing unwanted pregnancies."
While on the surface this approach sounds reasonable, the fact is that pro-lifers who fall for it are not demonstrating maturity, but naiveté. Any way you cut it, the moment pro-lifers sit down at the Common Ground table, the pro-aborts have won. First, the basic pro-abortion position is that abortion should be legal. Since abortion is legal, any forum that prohibits discussion of whether that should change (as all Common Ground discussions do) automatically constitutes an implied acceptance of the current policy and tactic surrender of the pro-life position.
Secondly, the pro-aborts know that even among people who label themselves "pro-choice," the overwhelming majority have a palpable uneasiness about the morality of abortion. On the other hand, only the most rabid pro-abort contends that the pro-life position is immoral. In short, even among people who might politically disagree with the pro-life position, most intuitively know that if one position is morally superior to the other, it is the pro-life position.
That's why Common Ground is so potentially dangerous for the pro-life effort. With a prohibition against discussing whether abortion should be legal, the pro-aborts get to play compassionate crusaders without having to defend the fact that their brand of compassion is paid for with innocent human lives. Meanwhile, the pro-lifers are sitting there discussing the issues the pro-aborts want to discuss, and in this process bestowing moral equivalence to their opponents.
The bottom line is that there is simply no way for the American people to watch a Common Ground event without concluding that the two sides are morally equal. And like I said, that's a slam-dunk victory for the pro-aborts.
As for the Seamless Garment, this is a concept primarily advanced by liberal Catholics who argue that in order to be truly pro-life, one must also be a pro-welfare, pro-gun control environmentalist who's opposed to the death penalty and never sees a justification for war.
Philosophically, people of good faith can disagree about the merits of this viewpoint.
However, when one looks at the way the Seamless garment is actually applied, it becomes clear that its primary function is to provide an escape mechanism for church leaders who are either pro-abortion but don't want to admit it, or pro-life but don't have the courage to act on it.
When people who are pro-life confront a seamless Garment church leader about his lack of support for the pro-life cause, they will inevitably be asked what they are doing about other-more liberal-social issues (welfare reform, environmentalism, anti-war, etc.). If they say, "Nothing," they are immediately dismissed as inconsistent or not credible. On the surface, this clergyman's actions could be seen as simply living up to the basic Seamless Garment philosophy. But his real agenda becomes more apparent when one observes that people who seek his support for liberal social causes are never told that they must join the pro-life effort in order to be consistent or credible.
The point is, don't be deceived by Common Ground or the Seamless Garment.
Remember, it's okay to be open minded, but not to the point that your brain falls out.

Mark Crutcher is the director of Life Dynamics, Inc.

Copyright © 1997 AFLM