Detractors Downplay Pro-Abortion FOCA Bill’s Reach, Say Pro-Lifers Exaggerate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Detractors Downplay Pro-Abortion FOCA Bill’s Reach, Say Pro-Lifers Exaggerate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 24
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — With Barack Obama in the White House and abortion advocates having a strong grip on Congress, pro-life advocates are wasting no time in energizing the grassroots for the next battle. While pro-life advocates accurately point out the far-reaching effects of the pro-abortion FOCA bill, detractors claim they’re exaggerating.

FOCA, or the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, is the Congressional bill that would take the Roe v. Wade ruling and its promotion of unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason and make it national law.

But the effect of the legislation goes well beyond that — and even leading pro-abortion groups and lawmakers acknowledge this.

The bill would topple hundreds of pro-life laws in every state in the nation including freedom of conscience laws that protect private hospitals and medical personnel from having to do abortions.

As has reported, the nation’s Catholic bishops are very worried that Catholic hospitals, under FOCA, would be compelled to do abortions. They warned that they would go as far as shutting them down if Obama signs the bill.

Now, liberal web sites are starting a new campaign to play down the effects of the bill and deceive the public into thinking it’s not so bad.

"What in the world were these bishops talking about, claiming that religious freedom in America was under attack? Keep up the hysterics, boys," the liberal web site Slate writes.

"And the most ludicrous line out of them, surely, was about how, under Obama, Catholic hospitals that provide obstetric and gynecological services might soon be forced to perform abortions or close their doors," Slate added.

The liberal evangelical web site BeliefNet, which ran article after article playing down Obama’s pro-abortion views during the election, has a new editorial up calling the FOCA concerns a "phantom."

David Gibson calls the concerns the "Catholic right’s doomsday prophesying" and sarcastically lambastes the bishops by saying they are worried about making "abortion-on-demand part of a mandated kindergarten curriculum" and pushing "the Catholic Church back into the catacombs."

Gibson goes as far as saying the pro-life movement needed to invent the concerns about FOCA to engender opposition to Obama and that the pro-life movement is largely reactive in nature — its proactive work in pregnancy centers and promoting pro-life legislation notwithstanding.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, the editor of National Review Online, responded Tuesday to the attempts to downplay the concerns about FOCA.

"Though it’s often referred to as a mere codification of Roe, FOCA, as currently drafted, actually goes well beyond that," she explains.

She quotes information from pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer who, in a statement on her web site, explains that FOCA would nullify all existing laws and regulations that limit abortion in any way, up to the time of fetal viability.

"While there is strenuous debate among legal experts on the matter, many believe the act would invalidate the freedom-of-conscience laws on the books in 46 states," Lopez said.

"These are the laws that allow Catholic hospitals and health providers that receive public funds through Medicaid and Medicare to opt out of performing abortions. Without public funds, these health centers couldn’t stay open; if forced to do abortions, they would sooner close their doors," she added.

"The bishops are not bluffing when they say they’d turn out the lights rather than comply," she concludes.

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