Another somber anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton is upon us. These were the decisions rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 that mandated abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy. Given the present alignment of political power in Washington, there is not much prospect of relief for the unborn, in the short term, resulting from congressional action.
Nor is there any chance that the new president will appoint a conservative, i.e., non-activist, jurist to the nation’s highest court who could cast a deciding vote for repeal or substantial curtailment of these truly radical decisions which are contrary to federalism, the rule of law, and basic morality.
But things can get worse. Evidently, 1.2 million abortions, each year, are not quite enough to satisfy the advocates of abortion on demand. Encouraged by strong liberal majorities in both houses of Congress, they are gearing up for another attempt to enact into law a bill sporting the Orwellian title, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” or FOCA for short.
President Barack Obama made a distinct campaign promise to sign this legislation if it reaches his desk.
FOCA goes well beyond simply codifying Roe and Doe. It would commandeer taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. A recent version of FOCA actually removed language ensuring that taxpayers would not be forced to pay for abortions. It now states that government may not discriminate against abortion in publicly funded programs. Moreover, this draft also deleted language found in previous versions which permitted regulations to protect rights of conscientious objection on the part of health-care providers objecting to abortion.
Admittedly, FOCA is a moving target given the iterative process of most legislative proposals. That said, there is good reason to be worried. “Even a paranoid can have enemies,” said Henry Kissinger.
In an article in the newspaper of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese last October 4, Bishop Robert W. Finn stated, “It is clear that FOCA would immediately make null and void every current restriction on abortion in all jurisdictions.” He cites studies describing in detail the scope and number of state laws that would be devastated by FOCA:
– State abortion reporting requirements in all 50 states
– forty-four state laws concerning parental involvement
– forty state laws restricting late-term abortions
– forty-six states conscience protection laws for individual health care providers
– twenty-seven state conscience protection laws for institutions
Bishop Finn also notes that 38 state laws banning partial-birth abortions, 33 state laws requiring pre-abortion counseling and 16 dealing with ultrasounds before an abortion would all be obliterated.
Clearly, out and about the country, there is a profound sense that abortion, even in a post-Roe environment, is a case apart, one requiring something more than simply a laissez-faire approach given the consequences for women, minors, families, not to mention unborn children. FOCA would eviscerate this organic movement as expressed through the legislatures of dozens of sovereign states.
President Obama ought to think twice and discourage his colleagues on the Hill from moving this toxic legislation forward, notwithstanding his previous support for it. He is dealing with the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, and he wants to address the pressing challenge of ballooning entitlement liabilities for the long run. He is a living symbol of reconciliation for a nation that has struggled mightily to overcome a great historic divide between Americans of different color. He needs to ask himself this question: Do I risk a significant amount of my political capital and good will in an effort that will trample our federalist system, violate the rights of conscience of millions of Americans, conscript taxpayers into the culture of death, possibly shut down religious-based hospitals throughout the country, and generate political acrimony in Congress just to achieve a marginal increase in the number of abortions?
Our new President has shown a very real tendency to adapt to political realities and move to a more centrist position on everything from tax cuts to foreign policy. One can hope that he might calculate the disproportionate costs of appeasing the abortion power within his own party, even if he does not experience a change of heart and mind on the matter itself. Moreover, he might recall that dozens of new Democratic House and Senate members were elected from previously Republican districts or jurisdictions. Forcing these moderate Democrats to cast a vote for FOCA would create political difficulties they do not need in their coming re-election campaigns.