Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Working together against FOCA (at least after next Tuesday)

Let’s not become so distracted by the presidential politics that divide us that we forget what urgently unites us. I confess that this has been a failing on my part for some weeks. The Catholic bishops have had an “action alert” posted on their website for over a month, but I paid no attention to it because it had no direct connection to the elections: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/FOCA/index.shtml

The particular matter on which our help is asked is opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This federal bill would, of course, deeply entrench Roe v. Wade’s right to abortion throughout pregnancy.  But it would do much more. FOCA would also forbid any federal or state governmental entity from “interfering with” or “discriminating” against that right “in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.” Thus FOCA could eliminate such “interferences” as parental involvement laws, informed consent laws, and health provider conscientious objector laws -- as well as create a virtual entitlement to abortion by requiring that all programs that benefit motherhood not “discriminate” against abortion (all of which would greatly increase the number of abortions).

Massive opposition to FOCA is something upon which all Catholics and many others must be able to come together, at least after next Tuesday’s election, especially if Senator Obama wins.  (Sen. Obama has told Planned Parenthood that FOCA will be his top priority if elected, but FOCA is sure to be pushed by the new Democratic Congress even of McCain  wins. He'll need votes to sustain his veto.) Pro-Obama Professors Cafardi, Caveny, and Kmiec would be looking forward to an Obama administration, of course, but as pro-life citizens they would not welcome FOCA. If their voices join those of the Georges (the cardinal and the professor) in opposition to FOCA, it can perhaps be defeated (as an earlier, less radical version of FOCA was defeated at the beginning of Bill Clinton’s first term). Indeed, as friends and supporters of any Obama administration, Nick, Cathy, and Doug might have especial weight given to their views. So let’s start looking beyond the election, beyond our present divisions, and all begin actively to oppose FOCA as soon as possible.

The USCCB website suggests asking Members of Congress who presently co-sponsor FOCA to remove their names. Here is a list of those names: http://nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/9FOCA%20HsSnSpon15a%2008.pdf. The website also urges personal meetings and letters to all senators and representatives, offers sample ads, and the like. For additional information (include the statutory text and a legal analysis by the bishops’ counsel), fliers, and posters, click on Oppose the “Freedom of Choice” Act  (FOCA)    

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