January 21, 2009
Understanding the stakes as we begin 2009
This is an important moment in our nation’s history. In 2009, our country welcomes a new president and a new Congress. Catholics and all people of good will hope to see our elected officials govern wisely and to work to protect the dignity of all human beings, including those not yet born.
In their most recent meeting this past November, the U.S. bishops voted unanimously to mobilize the entire Catholic community to resist any elimination of current pro-life laws and policies by the new administration and Congress. In the months ahead, Congress may introduce some variant of a destructive piece of legislation known as the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). FOCA would usher in a massive expansion of so-called abortion “rights.” The hard won progress made by the pro-life movement over the past 35 years in limiting and reducing abortions through modest regulation could vanish overnight.
The Archdiocese of Denver, along with dioceses across this land, is moving forward with a postcard campaign to urge Congress to retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion, and to oppose any bill that includes the abortion-friendly provisions contained in FOCA.
FOCA is a vital piece of legislation for the lucrative abortion industry. With the Supreme Court’s flawed 1973 Roe v. Wade decision now on shaky ground legally, abortion allies in Congress want to ensure that abortion availability is not eroded by the will of the people. In April 2007, then Senators Obama, Clinton and other legislators proposed a Freedom of Choice Act which would seek to embed unlimited abortion-on-demand in the Constitution of the United States. Very simply, if enacted FOCA would override any laws, both federal and state, to restrict abortion.
FOCA would sweep away Colorado laws governing parental notification, no state tax monies used for abortion, and the requirement that only a physician may perform an abortion. Senator Obama during the 2008 election stated publicly that he would sign the FOCA bill if and when it reaches his desk as president of the United States. We need to take his words very seriously. Whether he acts on FOCA immediately as president or delays FOCA-style action until later in his term—the latter course, frankly, would be the shrewder strategy—Barack Obama is a committed supporter of permissive abortion.
FOCA would also jeopardize the vital conscience clauses, both institutional and individual, which allow a person or an institution to opt out of performing abortions. Thus FOCA or similar legislation would have a very damaging impact on our Catholic medical facilities and health care personnel.
Of course, the new Congress may decide to focus on other more pressing issues, such as the economy. FOCA may—for a while—be placed on the back burner, while Congress seeks to accomplish FOCA’s goals by less obvious means: for example, by dismantling obstacles to abortion through unrelated appropriations bills. But this makes it even more urgent that we press Congress to retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion, and to oppose any effort to pass the provisions contained in the “FOCA Agenda,” regardless of how this effort is packaged.
Catholics have a duty and right as people of conscience to fight FOCA and other destructive legislative attempts to take the life of the most vulnerable in our society today, the unborn child in the womb. Our voices need to be strong so that our lawmakers in Washington hear us and vote justly.
As we mark the 36th anniversary of abortion in the United States this Thursday, I urge you to join with fellow Catholics across the Archdiocese of Denver to sign a postcard to your senators and congressional representatives. Many parishes will be having a postcard campaign the weekend of Jan. 24-25, or another weekend of their choice. This will give all of us a chance to send a clear message to Washington.
Please oppose FOCA or similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.
Call the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Denver at 303-715-3205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to get further information regarding this absolutely critical campaign.
God bless you for your work for the protection of all human life, especially the most defenseless.
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