"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do."
-- Senator Barack Obama, speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007
During the Bush Administration, a significant number of pro-life policies were either protected or promoted. With Democrats filling both the White House and Congress, abortion rights advocates are gearing up to push the abortion agenda on America with significant force.
The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) will undoubtedly return to the floor of Congress in the upcoming session. It had no chance in its previous attempts under President Bush, but President-Elect Obama has already vowed to sign this wretched piece of legislation. Proponents of FOCA claim that the law is about women's choice and making sure safe abortions are available to every woman who wants one. In reality, FOCA redefines abortion as a "fundamental right" – a definition that no Supreme Court decision has ever given it. (Roe v. Wade was based on a constitutional right to privacy.) FOCA threatens to nullify the common sense legislation that has been passed to regulate abortion, including state laws mandating waiting periods, parental consent, and restrictions on who can perform an abortion.
Under FOCA, anything that gets in the way of a woman's "fundamental right" to abortion would have to go. That's exactly what the act says. FOCA would invalidate any "statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action" of any federal, state, or local government that would "deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose [abortion]." With one solid whack, FOCA would trump every state law regulating abortion.
FOCA would make sure abortions are paid for too. Governments would no longer be allowed to "discriminate against the exercise of the right . . . in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information." That means that tax dollars would be used to pay for abortions. Government health plans would have to include provisions for abortions. Military or public university medical facilities would have to provide abortion services. People who have a moral objection to abortion would still be required to pay for another person's "choice."
FOCA - The Anti-Choice:
FOCA is in fact anti-choice legislation. If getting an abortion is a "right", then doctors or clinics would be required to provide abortions even if they believe that abortion is immoral. Right now there are laws that protect a doctor's freedom of conscience, but FOCA would reverse such laws. Unrestrained abortion on demand would become the law of the land.
Certain Roman Catholic bishops and hospitals are deeply concerned over the possibility that Congress might pass the Freedom of Choice Act. Some suspect that Catholic hospitals would be forced to close if they did not give in and provide abortions to those who demanded them.
"It's quite a title, let me tell you," said Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va, concerning FOCA last week. "It's a misnomer, it's neither free nor choice, so I don't know where they got the name of the act, because it's just crazy, because it has no freedom, and it has no choice, nobody has a choice for abortion…It will take away the right of Catholic hospitals not to do abortions, which I suspect would close them," Loverde said.
FOCA sounds extreme because it is extreme. Abortion rights advocates have been deeply aggravated by a steady stream of common sense laws keeping abortion in check. They resent the hard won partial-birth abortion ban, which outlawed the barbaric practice of killing an infant moments before pulling it from the womb. They despise the Supreme Court for upholding that ban in Gonzales v. Carhart .
A multitude of states have passed laws to protect teenagers from getting abortions without the knowledge or consent of at least one parent. Some states require that women be fully informed about what an abortion procedure involves and to take a few days to think it over before going through with it. Most states also have strict regulations about who is allowed to perform an abortion (licensed physicians only) in order to keep abortions "safe" as advertised.
On top of these kinds of laws, President Bush named two very conservative justices to the Supreme Court, men considered likely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade should a case come before them. (Overturning Roe would not outlaw abortion, but would merely return those decisions wholly to the states.)
Extreme abortion rights advocates chafe over any limitations on abortion, even sensible ones. FOCA is considered to be a one-shot way to eliminate all restrictions on abortion without having to debate them individually.
FOCA is a law that the majority of Americans would reject if they truly understood its implications. It does not help women, but in fact empowers the abortion industry. It does not offer choice, but takes choice away from those who object to abortion, and fails to protect women from being coerced into abortions. It would not make abortion safer, but would overrule certain health and safety regulations for abortion clinics. Rather than helping women, FOCA would force an extreme abortion agenda that promises to harm the people of America.
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