In late April of 2007, then-Senators Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and Senator Barbara Boxer re-introduced overarching Federal legislation to reinforce the importance of Roe vs. Wade.
The Freedom of Choice Act, or FOCA, as it is referred to, would effectively protect the right to abortion in the case of the Supreme Court ruling being overturned. The Bill has come to light again since the election of President Obama, especially since he carried the majority of the Catholic vote.
In a speech to Planned Parenthood while on the campaign trail last year, President Obama made a promise, “The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do.”
Prior to President Obama’s inauguration, Cardinal Justin Rigali, in a letter to Congress, commented that the legislation would essentially make abortion a “national entitlement.” Those in opposition to the legislation, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged Americans to pray novenas for the unborn and in response to the impending legislation on January 11. This call for prayer led to an enormous amount of criticism from non-Catholics and Democrats in the legislative branch.
According to Cardinal Rigali, FOCA “would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” According to the USCCB, “The church is resolute in opposing evil,” and the bishops are “completely united and resolute in our teaching and defense of the unborn child from the moment of conception.”
Under current legislation, doctors, nurses and hospitals have what is called a conscience right to deny performing an abortion. FOCA could require any doctor, nurse or hospital to perform an abortion. Even more startling, it would provide taxpayer-funded abortions as a fundamental right.
Many Catholic hospitals have spoken out against the passing of FOCA, and Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said, “It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals entirely,” Paprocki said. “It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.”
In a statement of policy and analysis from the USCCB, according to FOCA, “it is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child [and] to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability.” Under existing case law, abortion is not a “fundamental right.”
According to the USCCB, if passed, “FOCA would like to invalidate a broad range of state laws, including:
Invalidation of informed consent laws
Invalidation of laws protection the conscience rights of doctors, nurses and hospitals
Invalidation of parental notification laws
Abortion clinic regulations, even those designed to make abortion safer for women
Invalidation of government programs and facilities that pay for, or insure childbirth or health care services excluding abortion
Invalidation of laws preventing the carrying to term of a cloned human embryo (sometimes known as bans on reproductive cloning).
If you are strongly opposed to the passing of FOCA, make sure to write to your Congressperson, Senator, pray the novena and check out the petition online.