Catholic Pro-Life Leader Responds to Time Magazine on FOCA, Abortion Battle

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 26, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Pro-Life Leader Responds to Time Magazine on FOCA, Abortion Battle

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 26
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — A leading pro-life advocate who is a representative of the nation’s Catholic bishops has responded to Time magazine. Time was criticized last week for bashing pro-life advocates who oppose the radical pro-abortion FOCA bill even though the measure hasn’t yet been introduced this session of Congress.

Time staff writer Amy Sullivan said pro-life groups, including the nation’s Catholic bishops, were silly for mobilizing against a "mythical abortion bill."

In an editorial column at National Review, USCCB spokeswoman Susan Willis said Sullivan’s piece is "rife with inaccuracies and non sequiturs."

Willis says Sullivan misrepresented the postcard campaign the bishops sponsored and failed to note that the target is Congress, not the White House, and that the postcards ask elected officials to also oppose any bill that is similar to FOCA and that they also support current pro-life laws limiting taxpayer funding of abortions.

"Of course, FOCA isn’t our only worry: The pending appropriations measures can become vehicles for some aspects of FOCA," Willis explained. "But even if it were the case that no FOCA provision would come into existence until the whole bill went through the legislative process, ignoring FOCA until it’s actually introduced could be a recipe for failure."

Willis points out that President Barack Obama announced his intention to sign the radical abortion bill in a July 2007 speech to Planned Parenthood.

She also notes that "Congress has a stronger majority in support of" abortion "now than it’s had at any time since 1993."

"The risk to pro-life laws is apparent, so it makes sense for constituents to tell Congress on Day One how they feel about being forced to fund and promote abortion," she said.

Willis also indicated that Congress has moved some bills ahead in the legislative process very quickly without any hearings or committee votes on bills, and that FOCA could move from an introduced bill to a floor vote in the House or Senate in a matter of days.

"If sponsors craft a bill that can garner majority support, FOCA could move from a back room to final approval in days or weeks. It takes months of preparation, planning, printing, and distribution of materials to get tens of millions of individually signed postcards into the hands of members of Congress," Willis said.

"Sullivan also points out that when FOCA was last seriously taken up in Congress, in 1993, it failed. What she leaves out is that it failed after Catholics sent in millions of postcards opposing it, in the Conference’s first-ever such campaign on a pro-life issue," Willis notes.

Willis also corrects Sullivan’s claims that FOCA isn’t a priority for abortion advocates. Sullivan writes that the list did not include FOCA among its “top 15” priorities.

"Not true," Willis responds. "Those first 15 items are not the top priorities overall, just the steps the authors think can be completed in the first 100 days. And even those 15 include government funding for abortion and the elimination of conscience protections for health-care personnel — part and parcel of FOCA."

"The document then features FOCA itself as ‘important legislation’ needed to ‘improve access to abortion,’" Willis says.

"FOCA is critical to the abortion industry, even with President Obama in the White House. The constitutional basis for Roe is shaky, and in recent years, the Supreme Court has been more open to allowing some restrictions on the practice, such as parental-involvement laws and a ban on partial-birth abortion," Willis explains.

"Abortion-rights advocates are anxious to put abortion on a more plausible legal foundation — to use the legislature, rather than the courts, to bat down laws the American people want," she continues.

Finally, Willis corrects Sullivan’s inaccurate description of FOCA.

The bill would make unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy for any reason the national law and overturn hundreds of pro-life laws in every state across the country.

The latest version of FOCA creates a “fundamental right” to abortion, which no government (federal, state, or local) can “deny” or “interfere with.”

"It thus endangers a broad range of laws enacted over the last 35 years and upheld under Roe. At risk are laws on informed consent, parental involvement in a minor daughter’s abortion decision, taxpayer funding, clinic licensing, clinic safety, and partial-birth abortion," Willis says.

"According to its sponsors, FOCA would (among many other things) make sure that every state funds abortions through Medicaid," she added.

Ultimately, Willis says pro-life advocates should be concerned about abortion, even in a tough economic times.

"A nation that elevates the destruction of innocent human life to the status of a “fundamental right” and government-funded priority risks losing its basic commitment to the intrinsic rights and dignity of people in general," she concludes. "Our fundamental obligation to help those who are poor, marginalized, and stigmatized by society can only erode if we convince ourselves that it’s okay for the government to help kill our young."

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