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Will Catholic Lawmakers Support FOCA-like Policy in Health Care Reform?

When FOCA was introduced in 2007 thirty-five Catholic lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors - 34 remain in office today.
by Lisa Correnti | Source:

Last year during his presidential campaign Barack Obama made a promise when speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." FOCA has yet to be introduced in this Congress, but thirty-five Catholic members of Congress co-sponsored this direct assault on life in 2007 and thirty-four of these Catholic lawmakers remain in office. Many pro-life advocates believe attempts to pass FOCA may be done stealthily and incrementally. One vehicle to do so would be through health care reform. Health care reform bills have now been introduced in both the Senate and the House by abortion rights advocates.

The Dangers of FOCA

Recently the Catholic Church and the pro-life movement launched efforts to educate the public on the dangers of FOCA as an egregious assault on the unborn and to religious freedom.  Writing to all members of Congress on September 19, 2008, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities Cardinal Justin Rigali warned against enactment of the proposed “Freedom of Choice Act:”

Despite its deceptive title… FOCA would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.
FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country. There is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion…. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.

The National Right to Life reported that FOCA would "invalidate all laws requiring parental or judicial notification or consent for abortions performed on minors, laws that permit health care providers to opt out of participation in abortion on conscience grounds, laws prohibiting non-physicians from performing abortions, and waiting periods."

FOCA and Health Care Reform

President Obama and leaders in Congress have listed health care reform as a legislative priority. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged that the Obama administration regards abortion as "reproductive health" care and that women everywhere should have access to an abortion.

This should be no surprise, as it is consistent with her efforts as First Lady in her husband's administration when she led the task force on health care reform. Had it been implemented, the Clinton administration health care policy would have granted access to an abortion in all states regardless of a women's age, thereby allowing minors to obtain abortions even if states had parental notification laws.

Douglas Johnson, Federal Legislative Director for the National Right to Life, warned of a real possibility of FOCA-like policy being accomplished through a national health care bill.  Johnson writes of the dangers of sweeping abortion mandates being imposed by Congress and the Obama administration in health care reform in, Abortion at the Heart of the Abortion Plan. "A health care bill that mandates access to abortion, and that invalidates all state laws that impede such access, would be basically the so-called 'Freedom of Choice Act' under a different title," Johnson commented.

Catholic Members of Congress Supporting Freedom of Choice Act

On April 18, 2007 the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion Act. Pro-abortion lawmakers quickly responded with the introduction of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) the very next day.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sponsored the bill in the Senate. It had 20 co-sponsors, five of them Catholic.

The bill was introduced in the House by Congressman Jerold Nadler (D-NY 8th). Of the 109 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives twenty-nine
co-sponsors were Catholic.

Whether an individual FOCA bill is introduced or whether it’s done through the health care reform bill - Catholic legislators must have full understanding of the consequences of their support for such a blatant assault on life.

This week sent letters to Cardinal Rigali and the bishops of the thirty-four Catholic lawmakers who signed on to support FOCA in the previous Congress, asking that they meet with these legislators to assure they understand that supporting it would make them willful participants in a grave evil.

In his column in the Catholic Sentinel, “those who profess to love God, but back abortion, are liars,” Bishop Robert F. Vasa, wrote of Catholic politicians supporting FOCA.  Bishop Vasa also wrote:

I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith.

We cannot rely solely on ­select bishops to enlighten these Catholic lawmakers. The responsibility is also ours. Each of us has the individual responsibility to communicate truth, both directly and charitably, to our Catholic brothers and sisters.  

Catholic lawmakers co-sponsoring FOCA may be viewed here

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Published by: cynthia
Date: 2011-04-13 19:12:51
what are the fve lawmakers in our country and how do you represent the three types of government(local, state, national).

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