A group of Catholics has addressed an open letter to President-elect Barack Obama, professing an eagerness to cooperate with his administration while pleading that he reconsider his support for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).
The open letter, initiated by Henry C. Karlson III, has been signed by several prominent Catholic bloggers and commentators, including the Catholic apologist Mark Shea.
Praising Obama’s call to end harmful forms of partisanship, the writers of the letter said they too wanted to encourage people to “work together for the common good,” saying “It may change the hearts of many, and it might alter the path of our nation, shifting to a road leading to a better America.”
Citing Obama’s call for unity and his professed willingness to engage in dialogue with others, the letter turned to the issue of abortion.
“As men and women who oppose abortion and embrace a pro-life ethic, we want to commend your willingness to engage us in dialogue, and we ask that you live up to your promise, and engage us on this issue.”
The open letter cited Obama’s agreement to limit late term abortion with exceptions for the health of the mother, and his stated desire to work to reduce the actual number of abortions by alleviating those social issues which make women feel they have to abort.
“There is much we can do together,” the letter said. “There is much that we can do to help women who find themselves in difficult situations so they will not see abortion as their only option. There is much which we can do to help eliminate those unwanted pregnancies which lead to abortion.”
The letter then turned to Obama’s January 22, 2008 pledge to pass the Freedom of Choice Act as president. This commitment to FOCA, the letter suggested, “might well undermine your engagement of pro-life Americans on the question of abortion. It might hamper any effort on your part to work with us to limit late-term abortions.”
“FOCA does more than allow for choice,” the open letter argued. “It may force the choice of a woman upon others, and make them morally complicit in such choice.”
Under FOCA, doctors and hospitals which otherwise would not perform abortions might be forced to do so “even if it went against their sacred beliefs,” the group of Catholics said.
“Such a law would undermine choice, and might begin the process by which abortion is enforced as a preferred option, instead of being one possible choice for a doctor to practice,” the letter continued.
“If FOCA can be postponed for the present, and serious dialogue begun with us, as well as with those who disagree with us, you will demonstrate that your administration will indeed be one that rises above partisanship, and will be one of change. This might well be the first step toward resolving an issue which tears at the fabric of our churches, our political process, our families, our very society, and that causes so much hardship and heartache in pregnant women.”
The letter also voiced concern about Obama’s statements that he might override some of President George W. Bush’s executive orders, encouraging him to have a dialogue with the American people on the matter and warning a change in policy would undermine the “political environment” he wishes to establish.
“Among those issues which concern us,” the letter explained, “are those which would use taxpayer money to support actions we find to be morally questionable, such as embryonic stem cell research, or to fund international organizations that would counsel women to have an abortion (this would make abortion to be more than a mere choice, but an encouraged activity).”
Calling on Obama to “set aside particular promises to a part of your constituency,” the open letter said such a move would show his plan to reject “politics as usual” and truly become “a change we need.”
The full open letter can be read at Henry Karlson's blog Vox Nova: http://vox-nova.com/.