by George Vogt, IV
Feb. 9, 2009 (MetroCatholic) – For the past several weeks, Catholics across the nation have been involved in a postcard campaign to stop the passing of FOCA legislation. FOCA stands for “Freedom of Choice Act”. If passed, FOCA would go well beyond what is provided in the tragic Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 and would effectively negate pro-life legislation already enacted in all 50 states.
What does “well beyond” Roe v. Wade mean? FOCA states that every woman has a “fundamental right” to abortion. (Fundamental – of central importance ; belonging to one’s innate or ingrained characteristics <Merriam Webster>) It states that no government may “deny” or “interfere” with this right or “discriminate” against this right when regulating or providing “benefits, facilities, services, or information” to the public.
Among other things, FOCA would require taxpayers to pay for abortions, allow abortions through all nine months of pregnancy, deny parents any right of involvement in the decision-making process, and would bar laws protecting conscientious objection to abortion. (Roe cited an AMA resolution that no physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel should be required to violate personally-held moral principles. The latest version of FOCA removed language included in previously-drafted forms which would protect conscience.) (For a brief “Fact Sheet” about FOCA, visit
In the middle of this postcard campaign initaiated by the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic News Service has published an article written by Nancy Frazier O’Brien titled “Rumors aside, FOCA legislation no threat to Catholic health care”. (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0900402.htm)
Although Ms. O’Brien carefully crafted the article around short statements by several Catholic Health Services representatives including Bishop Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida and Bishop Vann of Fort Worth, Texas, the article has the potential to confuse or even mislead Catholics into thinking that their efforts in the postcard campaign are unwarranted, and perhaps even laughable. The down-playing of the importance of the current FOCA Card initiative is disturbing at best.
Using words such as “rumors” and “misleading” the article properly states that “the Freedom of Choice Act died with the 110th Congress and, a week after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, has not been reintroduced”. It is true that this legislation died in session. However, while on the campaigne trail, President Obama (then candidate Obama) literally invited pro-abortionists to re-introduce the legislation and guaranteed his support. In his speech to Planned Parenthood, he spoke of “playing offense”, called abortion a “fundamental issue”, and said he “will not yield” in regards to his pro-choice views. He stated that the days of “culture wars” are “growing dark”. In that same speech, while answering as to how he would ensure access to abortion, he stated “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf0XIRZSTt8)
Taking a passive attitude toward this legislation or the postcard campaign would be a big mistake. In a December letter, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB, Cardinal Justin Rigali wrote “there was a unanimous vote of the full body of Bishops to mobilize…the entire Catholic community” in this effort. He added “What we do know is that there are likely threats to pro-life policies and riders in anticipated Executive Orders and in the Appropriations process which will play out as soon as the new Congress convenes.” (The entire letter may be viewed at http://www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigali_Dec23.pdf)
As recently as this past Friday, Tom Grenchik, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB wrote “Our voices are needed now more than ever to guard against the erosion of current pro-life measures, and to keep abortion from becoming a federal entitlement.” (The entire letter may be viewed by visiting http://www.dfwcatholic.org/the-power-of-postcards-and-prayers2414/.html)
Many related articles may be found by visiting http://www.dfwcatholic.org/index.php?s=foca (97)