By Monica Ashour, MTS, M. Hum
(MetroCatholic) — The first version of FOCA was introduced in 1989 in response to Webster v. Reproductive Health Services which restricted tax payer dollars in funding abortion. Oven the interceding years there have been several attempts to pass the legislation, most especially by Barbara Boxer of California in 2003 and 2005. Its most recent push occurred the day after Gonzales vs. Carhart was passed (which upheld the federal ban against partial birth abortion); FOCA was reintroduced on April 19, 2007. While it is similar to its predecessors, it goes much further, especially in language it left out.
In a July 17, 2007 speech at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser Barack Obama said, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I‘d do.” While it is not on his desk yet there is every reason to believe that once presented to him he will sign the bill into law.
The effects of such action will be far reaching and devastating to those who wish to preserve the sanctity of life.
FOCA would codify Roe into law, elevating abortion as a “fundamental” right, and nullify more than 550 federal and state laws, including the partial-birth abortion ban. Currently thirty-six states have parental involvement laws that would be overridden — according to a November 2005 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll the public is in favor of parental consent and notification laws by more than 60%. Twenty-six states have informed consent laws that would be overridden; thirty-four states have abortion funding restrictions that would be overridden. Health and safety regulations and requirements that only licensed doctors be allowed to perform abortions and waiting periods would also be done away with. Not to mention the partial birth abortion ban.
Of great concern to Catholics and other people of faith the bill would also end conscience protection for doctors and nurses, hospitals and pharmacies (One Bishop threatened that all Catholic health-care institutions, including hospitals, would close rather than provide abortions. Another, Bishop Paul Loverde, of Arlington, VA, would urge Catholics to ignore FOCA if enacted.
While the risk of a fully emanated FOCA is quite real, of greater concern at the moment are the executive orders which will likely be quickly reversed by the new Obama administration. These include the Mexico City Policy which would reverse prohibitions on federal grant recipients from counseling women to abort in other countries, particularly where abortion is illegal.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) could very well be the second Executive Order President Obama will sign, and would expand federal funding beyond the existing sixty embryonic stem cell lines which is currently the limit. Embryonic stem cell research, in addition to destroying human embryos, has proven difficult because these stem cells are so difficult to control and have a tendency to grow rapidly into tumors, and cancerous ones at that. There have been no successful treatments or cures documented with ESCR, in contrast with over five dozen successful treatments from adult stem cell research (ADCR) which does not involve the destruction of human embryos. Contrary to what many have been led to believe by the media and medical community, there is no adequate supply of available embryos for research. In in vitro labs or elsewhere, the only way to satisfy the ensuing demand science would have would be to clone. With ESCR and cloning, we will be in the position of creating life for the express purpose of research and destruction and very likely we will see development of embryo farms where babies are developed for their spare parts.
Also of concern would be implementation of “buffer zones” around abortion clinics. Then President-elect Obama, in a statement published on his web site on the 35th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, alluded to the creation of buffer zones around abortion clinics. Abortion advocates have long sought to deny pro-life sidewalk counselors, prayer warriors and protestors their First Amendment rights by creating so-called buffer zones to keep them away from clinics. He said, “When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.” This clinic opening was blocked, not by protesters, but by pro-life advocates who sought to revoke the occupancy permit which had been granted under false pretenses.
As if the attacks on the unborn were not enough he also threatens to harm our nations youngsters through the defunding of abstinence only education. Obama sponsored legislation in Illinois to require sex education to children, beginning in kindergarten. He and his supporters at Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) are adamantly opposed to abstinence education and any federal or state funding of it. Despite the fact that our nation enjoys historic lows in teen pregnancy (lowest in 60 years), abortion advocates have convinced many in government and media that abstinence education is a failure, and even dangerous. As a result, seventeen states have now rejected abstinence funding, making Texas the largest recipient of these dollars. The last Congress was slow to renew funding for abstinence education and is only thought to have done so in order to protect House members headed home to campaign. Conventional wisdom has it that no member wanted to have to answer to constituents for having voted against abstinence education in such an important election year.
Look for early attacks on abstinence, which abortion advocates hope will be forgotten by the next election cycle. Look for added collaboration from DHHS (Department of Human and Health Services) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to delegitimize abstinence education as unrealistic, incomplete and dangerous. To better understand how completely President Obama aligns himself with Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates on this issue, witness this statement from his January 22, 2008 statement on the 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy. (Emphasis added.) In other words, not only will teens be taught a failed condom-contraception-only message, they will be provided unfettered access and funding to avail themselves of the services of abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood. (For more information on this, see the CPLC’s Because We Care keynote speaker’s talk. Note: 3 million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease each year in the U.S. – American Social Health Association; Kaiser Family Foundation, 1998)The question really becomes, what can we do about it?
First, understand the dismal reality and tell others. It has been suggested by Rush Limbaugh that these numbers are so dismal our only hope is to wait for abortion advocates to overplay their hand, which is inevitable. Others suggest we will only be able to defeat Obama’s anti-life agenda with the filibuster in the senate. Even if we win the 3 seats still in play, it could be difficult to keep them from the 60 needed to block. Others say our only hope for defeating FOCA is to engage our pro-life friends who voted for Obama, including pro-family Latinos and African-Americans. Remember that 20-30% of Evangelicals are thought to have voted for him as well as 60-70% of Catholics.
Keep in mind the philosophical basis of abstraction undergirding such a push, and show how we do not want mothers to be alone. Pray and fast for intentions of the women who find themselves having to make this choice. Contact your representitives at all levels of government and let them know that you support life. Ask you parish priest if he would be willing to insert information into the parish bulletin. Write or call your local media and tell them your stand on FOCA and other issues important to the sanctity of life. Join a local pro-life group or volunteer at a pregnancy center. Host a “Focus on FOCA” seminar at your parish or organization. Andrew Smith or I would speak for free.
Go pray at abortion mills and perhaps try talking to those women who feel alone to let them know we care.
But most of all pray.
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