John Zmirak Is Wrong

John Zmirak Is Wrong August 23, 2016

So apparently, the Seamless Garment (aka, the consistent life ethic) is a “poison pill” that was implemented by the Democrats with the intention of killing off the pro-life movement once and for all.

At least, that’s the story from John Zmirak, editor of The Stream, who recently published an article claiming that very thing. It’s a tad hyperbolic, to say the least.

“When Catholic liberal Democrats embraced the “Seamless Garment” spun by the leftist Cardinal Joseph Bernadin in 1982, and when they pushed it on passionately pro-life Catholics, they surely knew what they were doing. That theological project lumped together the intentional killing of more than a million unborn babies a year with every other phenomenon that might conceivably shorten some humans’ lives, from poor child nutrition to smog, from NATO missiles to Reagan’s aid to the anti-Communist contras. In essence, they said, if you aren’t a pacifist who favors absolutely unlimited welfare programs, open borders, and police using only rubber bullets, you cannot oppose abortion.”

Zmirak—along with likeminded pro-lifers such as Stephen Herried and Jason Jones—*really* hates the idea of having to share the sandbox with a handful of Democrats/whole-life folks. Honestly, you’d think he’d embrace us left-leaning pro-lifers and maybe celebrate our shared dedication to a common goal. Of course, that would disrupt the narrative that conservatives are the pure-bred defenders of life and liberals are the devil incarnate.

So instead, he chooses to paint us as operatives for the abortion lobby whose *real* goal is dismantle the pro-life movement by suggesting that maybe we should —as the Church teaches—expand our ideology to include the protection for all life—from conception to natural death.

Terrible, right? I mean, we’re practically ISIS.

In describing us, Zmirak writes,

“Those who take this stance can pretend that they really oppose abortion, but are too intellectually rigorous to become “single issue” voters. In fact what they are doing is saddling the pro-life movement with a deadly poison pill: Either embrace our outrageous, implausible, and likely suicidal utopianism, or let us go on murdering a million children per year.”

Now, I wasn’t necessarily *looking* for an excuse to curse in my first Patheos blog, but honestly, y’all,  the only way I can think to describe that paragraph is absolute horse shit. Not to mention, as an actual member and fellow of Democrats for Life of America, it’s pretty insulting.

Zmirak doesn’t go in quite as hard on DFLA as Herried did a few months ago, but he doesn’t have to. DFLA is governed by the same consistent life ethic being mocked in the article. So when he suggests that “those of us who take this stance” are actually soft on abortion, I take it personally.

It’s true that we see things like healthcare, paid maternity leave, higher wages, the death penalty, unjust war, and gun violence as pro-life issues. But this has never caused us to waver on our stance against abortion.

In the summer of 2015, we broke with the party to actively oppose Planned Parenthood (I would know, I personally handled a lot of the research and press releases). During that same time, our executive director, Kristen Day, was working tirelessly on the failed bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. We won’t even officially endorse Democratic candidates who aren’t pro-life, including Hillary Clinton.

In fact, half the reason we support the whole life ethic is specifically to reduce abortions.

But that’s not enough for Zmirak and his ilk. To them, all liberals are genetically flawed, and as long as our pro-life ideology includes issues other than abortion, we have no place in the pro-life movement.

Which, ironically, brings up a lot of questions about their priorities. If they’re only willing to accept people who conform to this narrow minded, pure blood way of thinking, you have to wonder where their allegiance truly lies.

Of course, at the end of the day, Zmirak’s attempts to purge the pro-life movement are absurd and will ultimately fail, because for pro-life Liberals, Democrats, and Seamless Garment Catholics, our dedication to the respect and protection of all life—including and especially that of the unborn—goes so much deeper than party politics.

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