By Archbishop John C. Nienstedt/Catholic Spirit
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
The Freedom of Choice Act will be considered by Congress (S. 1173, H.R. 1964) when it reconvenes in January.
Contrary to its deceptively clever title, FOCA would create a “fundamental right” for a woman to “terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability” or to “terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.” No governmental agency at any level (federal, state or local) could “deny or interfere with” this right nor discriminate against the exercise of this right “in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.”
If enacted, this would become the first time in our nation’s history that abortion is established as an “entitlement.” This, in effect, would move our country beyond even the Supreme Court’s decision of Roe v. Wade.
It would also do away with a large number of existing state laws on abortion, substantially impede the ability of states to regulate abortion, and override nearly 40 years of jurisprudential experience on the subject of abortion.
Legal experts say it would likely invalidate informed consent laws, parental notification laws, laws promoting maternal health (if they result in an increased cost for abortions), abortion clinic regulations (even those designed to make abortion safer for women), laws prohibiting a particular abortion procedure (such as partial-birth abortion) and laws requiring that abortions only be performed by a licensed physician.
It is hard to imagine a more radical piece of pro-abortion legislation. FOCA would have a devastatingly destructive impact on the government’s ability to regulate abortion.
I urge our readers to contact their senators and representatives and tell them to vote against this bill.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said on the occasion of last month’s Respect Life Sunday:
“FOCA establishes abortion as a ‘fundamental right’ throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could ‘interfere’ with that right or ‘discriminate’ against it in public funding and programs. If FOCA became law, hundreds of reasonable, widely supported, and constitutionally sound abortion regulations now in place would be invalidated.
“Gone would be laws providing for informed consent, and parental consent or notification in the case of minors. Laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and from abortion practitioners who are not physicians would be overridden. Restrictions on partial-birth and other late-term abortions would be eliminated. FOCA would knock down laws protecting the conscience rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals with moral objections to abortion, and force taxpayers to fund abortions throughout the United States.
“We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.
“For 24 years, the Catholic Church has provided free, confidential counseling to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual healing after an abortion, whether their own or a loved one’s. We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.”
In effect, FOCA would certainly be a boon to the abortion industry with the government forced to condone and promote such procedures. Now is the time to reduce, not increase, the incidence of abortion. Now is the time to work for the defeat of the Freedom of Choice Act.
God love you!