Bishops Warn Flocks During Respect Life Month

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

During the month of October, recognized as Respect Life Month, U.S. Bishops are warning their flocks about the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a federal bill that could invalidate every existing state law restricting abortion in the U.S.

FOCA was introduced by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in response to the April 18, 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Gonzales v. Carhart) upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

The bill reads, “A government may not (1) deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose – (A) to bear a child; (B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or (C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or (2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.

“This act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, penalty, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before or after the date of enactment of this act.”

While liberal media refer to the bill as a mere attempt to “codify Roe,” it actually goes much further by establishing abortion as a fundamental right throughout the nine months of pregnancy.

If passed, this bill would effectively eliminate every existing abortion restriction in the states, including informed consent laws, freedom of conscience laws, and laws protecting women from unsafe abortion clinics and practitioners.

Restrictions on partial-birth abortion and late-term abortion would also disappear, and taxpayers would be forced to fund abortions across America.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-IL) is a staunch supporter of the bill and while addressing a Planned Parenthood event on July 17, 2007, said: “The first thing I will do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the United States Committee of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement on Oct. 2 praising the successes of the culture of life in America but strongly warned that the passage of FOCA would “obliterate virtally all the gains of the past 35 years.”

“FOCA establishes abortion as a ‘fundamental right’ throughout the nine months of pregnancy, and forbids any law or policy that could ‘interfere’ with that right or ‘discriminate’ against it in public funding and programs,” he said.

“We cannot allow this to happen,” Cardinal Rigali urged.  “We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives.  We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

“We look forward to the day when these counseling services are no longer needed, when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. If FOCA is enacted, however, that day may recede into the very distant future.”

Bishops across the country are following Cardinal Rigali’s lead in denouncing FOCA and encouraging more pro-life action.

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo. issued a pastoral warning to his flock about FOCA and while not mentioning Senator Obama’s name, wrote: “When a candidate …  promises to promote – or to ‘sign immediately upon taking office’ – the Freedom of Choice Act, Catholics and all people of good will have cause to question the sincerity of the candidate’s determination to reduce abortions.”

Cardinal Rigali is urging all Catholics to “rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance.”


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