.- A spokesman for Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has said that the Freedom of Choice Act is among the congressmanâs priorities and will be introduced âsooner rather than later,â according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is intended to enshrine abortion rights into federal law, protecting abortion in the event the Supreme Court overturns its ban on restrictive state abortion laws. The proposal has drawn intense Catholic opposition, with Catholic bishops worried the bill could threaten Catholic hospitalsâ freedom to refuse to cooperate with or perform abortions.
A prior version of FOCA defined abortion as a âfundamental rightâ that no government can âdenyâ or âinterfere with.â
Critics have claimed that concern about FOCA is overblown, noting the bill has not even been introduced for the present Congressional session. They declare FOCAâs chances of passing Congress to be slim.
However, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Ilan Kayatsky, a spokesman for Rep. Nadler, who said the legislation is âamong the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later.â
Kayatsky said he expects FOCAâs other original sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), to introduce the bill in the U.S. Senate.
âWe expect it to be more or less the same bill with some minor tweaks," Kayatsky told the Post-Dispatch.
As U.S. Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama was a co-sponsor of FOCA. In 2007 during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he had promised a gathering of members of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund that he would sign FOCA as one of his first acts in office.
Bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida Robert Lynch said that âeven in the worst case scenarioâ in which FOCA required abortions to be performed at Catholic hospitals, the hospitals would not close.
âWe will not comply, but we will not close,â he said, advocating a strategy of civil disobedience.
Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, told the Post Dispatch that she did not believe the language in the most recent version of FOCA would force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions. She also believed civil disobedience would be the Churchâs response to such coercion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had launched a postcard to protest FOCA. It recently added an e-mail campaign to the effort, inviting citizens to tell their Senators and Representative to oppose FOCA âor any similar measure.â
âIt is especially important that Congress retain these laws in the various appropriations bills, e.g., the Hyde Amendment in the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill,â the e-mails also say.
Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director for Policy and Communications at the USCCB's Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, urged participation in the campaign.
"To guard against the erosion of current pro-life measuresâand to keep abortion from becoming a federal entitlementâour voice is needed now more than ever," she said.