Cardinal Justin Rigali, the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has written a letter to the U.S. Congress to alert them that the Freedom of Choice Act would undermine bipartisan efforts to reduce abortions and make abortion on demand a "national entitlement."
Writing to all members of Congress on September 19, Cardinal Rigali warned that the enactment of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would “deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.”
“Despite its deceptive title,” he wrote, “FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who introduced the bill, saw the legislation differently, describing it as being about “the absolute right to choose” prior to fetal “viability." Some supporters of the bill additionally argue that it would simply codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
However, Cardinal Rigali noted that other backers of FOCA say it “would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” These include bans on public funding of abortions as well as “modest and widely supported state laws” protecting women’s safety, informed consent and parental rights, he stressed.
Further, the cardinal from Philadelphia claimed that under FOCA “abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”
FOCA, the cardinal said, would militate against the work of members of both parties who have “sought to reach a consensus on ways to reduce abortions in our society.”
Even though the Catholic Church disagrees with programs that help reduce abortion by means of contraception, Cardinal Rigali stated in his letter that, “there is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion…. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”
FOCA finds Sen. Barack Obama in the midst of a major contradiction. While the Act lists him as a co-sponsor, this is directly contradicted by his presently stated position of desiring to reduce abortions.
Obama’s support for the bill is not just legislative either. On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”
Sen. John McCain has not taken a position on FOCA, but both Deal Hudson and Fr. Frank Pavone have told CNA that they strongly believe McCain would veto the bill.
Cardinal Rigali closed his open letter by urging all members of Congress “to pledge their opposition to FOCA and other legislation designed to promote abortion,” so that “we can begin a serious and sincere discussion on how to reduce the tragic incidence of abortion in our society.”
The full text of Cardinal Rigali’s letter can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigaliltr.pdf.
A legal analysis of FOCA from the USCCB can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCAanalysis.pdf.