By Hilary White

January 13, 2009 ( – One of the US’s most prominent Evangelical writers and conservative speakers has compromised on his pro-life position in the face of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and has said that abortion should remain legal. Frank Schaeffer told an interviewer that he believes that thirty years of attempts to overturn the US Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade have failed and that the “black and white” pro-life position is counterproductive.

Schaeffer, an author, speaker and screenwriter, is the son of the great protestant theologian Francis Schaeffer, the man who is credited as a major theological inspiration for the conservative Christian political movement, including the US pro-life movement. While still widely regarded as an Evangelical leader, Frank Schaeffer has joined the Greek Orthodox church.

Schaeffer told the interviewer that although he still believes that abortion is the unjust killing of an innocent human being, he now believes that, “If we’re going to reduce the number of abortions that happen in this country, we’ve got to recognize the failure of thirty years of effort” to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

“There’s a very big difference between bedrock moral belief and tactics,” he said. Pro-life advocates have a choice between “railing against” the election of Obama or “working with an administration that has clearly stated in its position paper that it would like to see the number of abortions reduced. But it’s not going to be done by overturning Roe v. Wade.” 

“When I say that I think abortion should remain legal, what I mean is that the tactic of putting all this energy into overturning Roe, is, I think, just whistling in the dark.”

“There’s been a lot of simplistic thinking on this,” Schaeffer said. “The time has come to really understand that that part of an absolute black and white position is not going to happen.”

Asked if, as he said, he still believes abortion is murder, how he can propose to “legalize murder,” Schaeffer said, “I think these are complicated things.”

“I think there are different kinds of killing, that there is a lot of moral ambiguity … Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of choosing between a perfect world or our world. We are where we are and we all muddle along and do the best we can.”

“I think there are two different discussions here. There’s the moral discussion from the pulpit, as it were, and there’s the practicality of how do we navigate very, very tricky issues in a culture where a lot of the time things don’t go the way any particular group wants them to go.”

With the landslide election of Barack Obama, the morale of pro-life advocates in the US has sunk and Schaeffer’s views backing away from a genuinely pro-life position are becoming more common in editorials and online discussion groups. More pro-life groups and individuals are renouncing the fight against Roe v. Wade, which is said to have definitively failed with Obama’s election, and are advocating the so-called “incrementalist” approach of “reducing abortion.”

But the idea of cooperating with a vehemently pro-abortion administration has been denounced by numerous experienced pro-life advocates. Monsignore Ignacio Barreiro, the head of the Rome office of Human Life International, told that it is impossible to violate or even abandon the principle of opposition to abortion for political expediency.

The bedrock of the pro-life political movement, he said, is the principle of the sacredness of human life, which must be upheld “with total independence of the immediate feasibility of implementing that principle.”

Responding to Schaeffer’s comments, Barreiro said, “Any abortion is a heinous crime and our constant objective as Christians has to be to protect all innocent life. So, for tactical reasons, we cannot change our basic moral objectives.

“Every life is precious; every life has to be cherished, and no one under any circumstances whatsoever has a moral right to destroy the life of an innocent. We have to uphold the principle all the time without betraying that principle on the pagan altar of expediency and practicality.”

Barreiro, an attorney who spent years in diplomatic service before ordination, explained that there are cases in which “a legislator who is inspired by the Natural Law can negotiate a reduction in the amount of abortions committed.” But that the election of Obama, with his stated goal of passing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), would present few if any opportunities of implementing this principle. 

FOCA proposes to lift all existent legal restrictions on abortion in the US and remove the right of doctors to refuse to participate in them.

Barreiro continued, “How can we say that we can negotiate a decrease in abortions when it is the apparent intention of the incoming administration to present to Congress a draft law that will reduce all existing legal barriers to abortion? And worse, it will try to enshrine the infamous ‘right to choose’ as a right of women.”

“They want to enshrine as a right the idea that no one can force a woman to have a baby. They consider any law that forces a woman to fulfil her duty a violation of the rights of women.”

He added, “I doubt it very much that the incoming administration is going to present any proposal whatsoever to reduce abortions, because of their dedication to the ‘right to choose’ ideology.

But Frank Schaeffer reiterated his support for Obama, who has been called the “most pro-abortion US president in history,” and for “working with” the President elect to “reduce abortions”.

Schaeffer has recently published the book, “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back” in which he has effectively renounced his affiliation with the Christian conservative movement. In February, 2008, before Senator Barack Obama was nominated for the presidency by the Democratic Party, Schaeffer endorsed the senator in an article entitled “Why I’m Pro-Life and Pro-Obama.”

  To express concerns contact Shaeffer here:
[email protected]