Honest debate is the only way to get this abortion bone out of the
Catholic throat so that we can get on to more important pro-life
issues [like hunger, health care, overpopulation, and
Pro-abortion 'Catholic' priest Daniel McGuire.
People who call themselves 'pro-life' are phonies, because they don't
care about the rights of gays and minorities, they are for the death
penalty, and they couldn't care less about nuclear weapons, war, the
environment, and animal rights.
Effective Weapon of Confusion for the Left.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Weaver of the Cloth.
Although the "Seamless Garment" theory has been in
existence since social activism began, it was first applied to
pro-lifers in 1976 by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin in Dallas.
The Cardinal did not provide useful details on his permutation of the
theory until a 1984 St. Louis talk entitled "A Consistent Ethic of
Life: Continuing the Dialogue," where he stated that, although
abortion and nuclear war cannot be "collapsed into one
problem," they must nevertheless "be confronted as pieces of a
A Perfect Fit for the Left.
Pro-abortion and other Neoliberal groups, of course, couldn't be
happier with Cardinal Bernardin's "Seamless Garment," because
with it, they could cloak themselves with a shroud of legitimacy and
Anti-life groups like 'Catholics' for a Free Choice see the
"Seamless Garment" as a Hell-sent, handy way of putting
abortion at the bottom of everyone's priority list, and even hopefully
of burying the thorny and messy issue altogether. After all, if we
relegate abortion to the back burner, nobody will attempt to violate the
privacy of the baby-killers.
This is not the original intent of the Cardinal's concept, of course.
But how many times have veteran pro-life activists heard;
"You're not really pro-life unless you ..."
oppose capital punishment;
work to stop nuclear war;
work to stop hunger;
work to increase human dignity;
work to increase access to contraception;
work to safeguard "gay" (i.e., pervert) rights;
help save the whales;
adopt several Ethiopian children;
are a strict vegetarian and wear no leather;
and do a thousand other things,
ANYTHING besides opposing abortion!
Examples of the 'Seamless
Garment' In Action.
Seamless Garment on the Offensive.
Inevitably, Neoliberal clergy wove a 'Seamless web' from the
'consistent ethic of life,' leading to numerous flagrant abuses. For
example, Cardinal Bernardin himself attended several banquets to benefit
Planned Parenthood contributors, and then criticized Cardinal John
O'Connor's pro-life efforts as being "inconsistent."
These charges were naturally leveled while O'Connor was out of the
country and was therefore unable to reply. Bernardin also fired a good
priest from the Chicago Diocesan Pro-Life Office for offering Mass in
reparation for the widespread use of artificial contraception by
American 'Catholics,' saying that this Mass "... was too narrow and
Of course, Masses said for the intention of getting relief from the
'oppression' of the Contras, or for homosexuals, were perfectly
Another outstanding example of how the Seamless Garment theory can be
twisted to favor anti-life forces is a full-page advertisement that
appeared in the November 3, 1988 edition of a left-wing 'Catholic'
newspaper, The Progress.
The purpose of this ad was to drum up support for the second most
anti-life Presidential candidate this country has ever seen: Michael
The headline, in one-inch high letters, shouted;
GEORGE BUSH IS PRO-LIFE?
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN RHETORIC!!
The ad proceeded to describe all of the perceived economic woes of
the country, and placed all of them, along with the Iran-Contra affair,
at Bush's feet. The complaints included the plight of farm families,
bank failures, infant mortality, wealth concentration, the minimum wage,
and all of the issues near and dear to a Neoliberal's cold heart.
Abortion was not mentioned until the concluding pitch, and only then
in a condescending manner. Notice how the pro-aborts, once again, used
the tools of confusion and deception as they tried to lay claim to the
George Bush wants you to believe he is pro-life.
He may be anti-abortion,
BUT HIS POLICIES ARE FAR FROM PRO-LIFE!
VOTE FOR DUKAKIS AND BENTSEN
PAID FOR BY CATHOLICS COMMITTED TO
RESPONSIBLE PRO-LIFE LEADERSHIP
The Vatican Reply.
As usual, Pope John Paul II got to the heart of the matter when he
said on February 12, 1986 that "An extreme sensitivity akin to a
holy reaction is felt when attempts on life are made in the form of
famine, war, and terrorism; yet, one cannot find this feeling of
sensitivity when faced with abortion, which takes the lives of
innumerable innocent beings."
The most popular connection made by Seamless Garment supporters is
the abortion-nuclear war link. They allege that a person simply cannot
be 'truly pro-life' if he or she in any way, shape, or form supports a
strong national defense.
However, supporters of the Seamless Shroud deliberately obscure the
central points of the comparison;
Most importantly, the intentions behind abortion and national
warfare are fundamentally different. Abortion is a pure act of
aggression that seeks to kill innocent and helpless human beings,
primarily for comfort and convenience. A just war seeks to
destroy purely military targets and is carried out against well-armed
troops that can defend themselves quite adequately.
The intention of a reactive war is to defend one's country and
way of life. The purpose of abortion is also to preserve one's
lifestyle, but abortion is an offensive, not defensive
Unfortunately, all of this is irrelevant in the Seamless Garment
debate, which is always carried out at the crudest and most appealing
For more information on the "Just War" theory, see Chapter
121 of Volume III.
The Death Penalty.
Seamless Garment enthusiasts also state flatly that one cannot be
truly pro-life if he is not both anti-abortion and anti-death penalty.
This is worse than a comparison of apples and oranges; it is
literally a comparison of grapes and watermelons.
Once again, Seamless Shroud supporters ignore the central points of
The preborn baby has committed no harm against anyone, while
those who receive the death penalty have been found guilty of the most
heinous of crimes in most cases, many heinous crimes. Pr-aborts
may argue that the preborn baby commits harm against the mother just
by existing, but this heartless argument totally neglects the
fact that intent is missing. Nobody who kills another person unintentionally
will be sentenced to death the crime may instead be manslaughter.
The criminal has been tried by a jury, in front of a judge, and
both 'sides' have presented evidence. The preborn has no jury, no
judge, not even a charge (other than existing), and he is simply
sentenced to death. He does not have the slightest chance of defending
Execution of a killer is a matter of utmost seriousness. It is
true that some innocent people may have been executed, but it is also
true that the 'system' has expended great efforts in discerning his
guilt. On the other hand, almost all abortions are committed for the
most trivial of reasons, as described in Chapter 87, "Statistics
on Abortion." If the same philosophy was applied towards crime,
all of our jails would be empty, because the death penalty would be
automatic for such petty crimes as larceny and DUI.
As evidence of this last point, every day in this country, more
innocent unborn babies die than all the criminals executed in this
Abortion and the death penalty cannot logically be compared. Seamless
Garment hacks are trying to sell us this absurd equation:
THE PROBLEM OF THE DEATHS OF 20 GUILTY MURDERERS PER YEAR IS FAR
MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PROBLEM OF THE DEATHS OF 1,550,000 INNOCENT
BABIES PER YEAR
For more information on this curious inversion of values, see Chapter
92 of Volume III, "Capital Punishment."
Seamless Garment = Death for Pro-Life Activism!
If the pro-life movement is to survive, it must avoid the Seamless
Garment concept like the plague that it is. It is absolutely essential
to reject this philosophy (in its Neoliberal-transformed guise) totally.
As Franky Shaeffer so rightly predicted, "If you put on the clothes
of the Seamless Garment, the pro-life movement is finished!"
There are several compelling reasons for this rejection.
To begin with, the pro-life movement is inevitably broad-spectrum in
its membership. It includes liberals and conservatives, Catholics,
Protestants, atheists and Jews, Independents, Democrats and Republicans.
The people in this movement agree on one thing: That human life must
be protected from conception. If other admittedly important issues such
as the nuclear threat, animal rights, and capital punishment become a
part of the debate, it will be very hard to find any two people in the
new, expanded "Seamless pro-life movement" who will agree on
everything. Thus, the movement would inevitably fracture into a thousand
factions and die.
Besides, what is wrong with being 'single-issue' in the first place?
Martin Luther King was single-issue. Even Margaret Sanger was
single-issue. Many revered movements have been entirely single-issue:
Civil rights, abolitionists, and the unionizing movement are just three
After the Supreme Court's July 1989 Webster decision, the
National Organization for Women and other pro-abortion groups demanded
that their members sign pledges that they would never vote for an
"anti-choice" politician. This is yet another case of the
pervasive Neoliberal double standard; pro-lifers must be multiple issue,
but Neoliberals may be anything they like.
Finally, 'broadening our scope' will be the death knell of the
pro-life movement, because so many committed activists will be spending
so much time in soup kitchens and picketing nuclear weapons plants that
they won't have any time, energy, or money left to stop abortion.
References: The Seamless Garment.
 Pro-abortion 'Catholic' priest Daniel McGuire. "The Catholic
Legacy and Abortion: A Debate." Commonwealth, November 20,
1987, pages 657 to 665.
 Franky Shaeffer, quoted in Life & Family News, July
1984, page 5.
Further Reading: The Seamless Garment.
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Consistent Ethic of Life.
Sheed & Ward, 115 East Armour Boulevard, Post Office Box 419492,
Kansas City, Missouri 64141, telephone: 1-800-333-7373. 1988, 287 pages.
This book consists of three parts: (1) The texts of 10 addresses by
Cardinal Bernardin, the originator of the "seamless garment"
theory. This series of addresses considers the topics of genetic
engineering, abortion, modern welfare, the terminally ill, and capital
punishment; (2) symposium papers by several authors on the
"seamless garment," including renegade Jesuit Richard A.
McCormick and Sidney Callahan; and (3) and the Cardinal's response to
Steve F. Levicoff. Building Bridges: The Prolife Movement and
the Peace Movement.
Toviah Press, Eagleville, Pennsylvania 19408. 1982, 130 pages. This book
examines what the author falsely believes to be inconsistencies in both
the pro-life and "peace" movements, and describes how he
thinks that both movements can come together to protect all life, born
and unborn. Unfortunately, the author seems oblivious to the profound
differences in philosophy between the movements, and he does not take
into account the root causes of these differences. Although the melding
of these two movements is impossible under current conditions, the
author still gives us some interesting food for thought.
© American Life League BBS 1-703-659-7111
This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activists Encyclopedia published
by American Life League.