Sacred Heart adds life to abortion debate

Further proof that good PR has nothing to do with good taste.

Further proof that good PR has nothing to do with good taste.

For the past eight years, the Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder, CO, has been quietly holding "funerals" for the cremated remains of aborted fetuses - without the permission of the would-be mothers. Last Sunday, they invited the press. Half the country was appalled; the other was heartened.

But regardless of what one thinks of abortion, religion, or gratuitous inclusion of the words "aborted fetus" in the morning paper, it's hard to deny the significance of the event.

Whether they know it or not, the Sacred Heart crowd is employing an increasingly popular pro-life tactic: Gradually establish the rights (or in this case, rites) of unborn children in ways seemingly unconnected to the abortion debate, then turn those rights back on the pro-choice crowd and watch 'em squirm.

It's a tactic best exemplified by Laci's Law, named for the oft-exploited Laci Peterson. The law states that anyone who kills an unborn child while committing violence against the mother can be charged with murder.

Who can argue with that? Except that it leads to the obvious question: If a fetus is protected by law in that case, why not when the mother chooses to abort it?

The Sacred Heart ceremony raises similar questions. Was the nature of what they buried simply the after-matter of a medical procedure, or human remains? If it's the former, what right does the would-be mother have to complain? And if it's the latter, why isn't she being charged with murder?

In other words, good luck finding a way to speak out against what the church did without violating pro-choice dogma.

It ain't pretty, it's PR.

  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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