by Steven Ertelt
March 6, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Leading pro-life advocates have been criticized by the mainstream media for organizing an active opposition to the radical Freedom of Choice Act because the bill has yet to be filed in Congress. However, a leading pro-abortion Congressman calls FOCA a top priority and says the bill is coming soon.
A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat who is chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee that could consider the bill, says the bill is forthcoming.
FOCA "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later," Ilan Kayatsky told the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
"We expect it to be more or less the same bill with some minor tweaks," Kayatsky said. He indicated he expects pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer to introduce a companion bill shortly.
If the bill is introduced in roughly the same form as it has been in previous Congressional sessions, then pro-life advocates will be preparing to vigorously oppose it.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director for National Right to Life, says his group would "continue to work to heighten the barriers to the FOCA, no matter when it is re-introduced."Johnson said pro-life advocates need to be aware of all of the threats to pro-life laws such as the concerns presented with FOCA."We will also be working against the immediate threats posed by the Obama Administration's radical abortion agenda, such as its efforts to enact abortion mandates in health care legislation, and to repeal the Hyde Amendment," he added.
The Freedom of Choice Act would make unlimited abortions for any reason throughout pregnancy the national law. It would also overturn hundreds of pro-life laws approved in states across the country.
Matt Bowman, a pro-life attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, estimates that FOCA could result in an increase of 125,000 abortions or more annually throughout the country.
"Advocates and opponents of FOCA all agree that the bill would nullify every legal limit on abortion, state, federal or otherwise," he explains. "Abortion advocates who want FOCA concur: NOW, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and FOCA sponsor Senator Barbara Boxer all contend that FOCA will strike down all state pro-life laws."
"The shockwaves that FOCA would cause are immense and wide-ranging, but recent research shows one effect in particular. Certain state laws that are doomed under FOCA actually prevent a statistically significant number of abortions. These laws include parental involvement requirements, informed consent laws, and restrictions on government funding of abortions," Bowman adds.
Meanwhile, Catholic leaders worry that they would have to close some hospitals because of the threat FOCA poses.
Michael Moses, a top attorney for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, adds that the language of FOCA is so far-reaching that it will remove any conscience clause measures from state laws that protect doctors, hospitals and medical professionals who don't want to be involved in abortions.
Moses' reading of the proposed legislation is that if abortion is a fundamental right that can't ever be infringed, then every hospital and medical center must do abortions -- including Catholic and other religious or private hospitals that object to doing them.
Some of the bishops, during their annual national meeting in November, went as far as saying the Catholic Church should be willing to close some health facilities rather than allow them to be subject to a mandate to do abortions FOCA may impose.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago spoke up about the threats to Catholic health care under the bill.
“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.”
“I do not think I'm being alarmist in considering such drastic steps,” he said. “We need to respond in a morally appropriate, responsible fashion.”
Should Congress approve FOCA, President Barack Obama has already indicated he would sign the measure. During the presidential campaign, Obama promised in a speech to Planned Parenthood that the bill would be the first he would sign as president.