Catholic Bishops Rep Corrects Incorrect Novena Email on FOCA Abortion Bill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 14, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishops Rep Corrects Incorrect Novena Email on FOCA Abortion Bill

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 14
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — If you’re a pro-life Catholic, chances are you’ve seen the email that has been widely circulated across the Internet seeking prayers to stop the radical FOCA bill. While the email is accurate concerning how the Freedom of Choice Act will make abortion on demand the national law, there is one big error.

The bill will allow unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason and overturn every pro-life law in all 50 states if it becomes law.

However, the email claimed that incoming President Barack Obama would sign the bill on his first day in office and that he would do so on January 21 or 22.

While Obama has promised Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion business, that he would make signing the bill his first as president, the measure still has to go through the legislative process.

Before Obama could ever sign the FOCA bill into law, both the House and Senate would be required to hold committee hearings and floor votes or bring up the bill under a special ruling requiring a two-thirds vote without a committee hearing.

At minimum, even if fast-tracked as the top legislation in Congress and moved as quickly as possible over the objections of pro-life lawmakers, it doesn’t seem practical that the bill would ever reach Obama’s desk until the end of January or February at the earliest. has received dozens of emails from pro-life advocates who are now confused about the bill’s timing and, in an email we received, Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, helped correct the record.

"This novena item is misleading in any number of ways," he explains.

"Of course there is no possibility of FOCA being passed this month," and he denied a rumor that Obama could merely approve the bill by executive order. A president doesn’t have that ability — which also refutes the detractors who don’t understand why President Bush couldn’t abolish abortions by executive fiat.

Doerflinger said the authors of the novena email may have been confused about an executive order Obama is likely to issue on his first day in office which concerns taxpayer funding of abortions.

Obama is expected to overturn President Bush’s Mexico City Policy, an executive order that prohibits using taxpayer funds to pay for performing or promoting abortions in other nations.

Obama may also quickly overturn Bush’s protections preventing taxpayers from being forced to pay for embryonic stem cell research that destroys days-old unborn children.

“There may or may not be presidential orders in the first few days of the Administration to reverse President Bush’s policies on stem cell research” and the Mexico City Policy, Doerflinger said in the email.

Doerflinger said he thinks FOCA will eventually come up and there will be a time for mass efforts to defeat it, but he believes abortion advocates will pick the low-hanging fruit first before waging the FOCA battle.

“We are fairly sure that our opponents will try for various less ambitious efforts before they try for FOCA, including possible attacks on some of the pro-life riders contained in appropriations bills that must be renewed by the first week of March,” Doerflinger explained.

He said a postcard campaign the bishops have authorized to mail members of Congress against FOCA is merely a first step in what could be a months or years-long effort against the bill.

Doerflinger also took issue with language in the novena claiming women would be forced to undergo abortions, something he says would be unlawful.

He said the forced abortion concern comes into play with Obama likely overturning a new Bush policy helping to enforce federal laws that prevent medical centers and personnel from being forced to participate in abortions.

Ultimately, he wrote, "We need to be careful that we don’t make charges we can’t back up. FOCA is radical enough to be frightening without doing that."

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