More than 100 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter to President Barack Obama asking that he withdraw his campaign pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and other pro-abortion rights laws.
FOCA is legislation designed to protect abortion rights even if the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade is overturned. It threatens to abolish existing minimal state and federal restrictions on abortion and could even threaten the rights of Catholic hospitals to refuse to perform abortions.
The Republicans’ Jan. 21 letter, which was signed by House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and 104 other House members, “respectfully urged” President Obama to withdraw his pledge to sign FOCA.
During his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama told a July 2007 gathering of Planned Parenthood Action Fund “the first thing I'd do as president is to sign FOCA”
The letter from the Republicans claimed that “in one tragic act,” FOCA would “overturn virtually all pro-life laws nationwide.”
It also urged the president to refuse to support legislation that “incrementally enacts the FOCA agenda” by rescinding or weakening existing pro-life laws in a piecemeal fashion.
Noting the Jan. 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court pro-abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade, the letter said that laws such as the prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortions have been enacted to “mitigate the effects of the decision on unborn babies and their mothers.”
The Republicans’ letter also quoted the Nov. 12 remarks of Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), whose statement to Obama spoke on behalf of all U.S. bishops.
As quoted in the Republicans’ letter, Cardinal George said FOCA would “deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry. FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars.”
It would also have “lethal consequences for prenatal human life” and have “an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children,” Cardinal George commented.
The Republicans’ letter to President Obama continued: “We ask that you reject this divisive agenda,” referring to the one lamented by Cardinal George.
The politicians assert that FOCA will not reduce abortions, but rather do the opposite, citing two studies as evidence.
The first, by Michael J. New, reportedly found that the minor abortion rate falls by 19 to 31 percent after parental involvement laws are enacted.
The second, conducted by Heather D. Boonstra and published in the Guttmacher Policy Review, reportedly found that 18 to 35 percent of Medicaid patients who would have had an abortion continue their pregnancies when Medicaid will not pay for their abortion.
“Restrictions on funding for abortion save lives and protect the consciences of millions of Americans who do not want their tax dollars to be used to destroy innocent human life,” the Republicans said in their letter.
Citing President Obama’s expressed desire to unite Americans, the letter continued: “…too much is at stake for this divisive and destructive legislation to move forward and life-saving laws to be rolled back.”
“We respectfully urge you to withdraw your pledge to sign FOCA,” the letter concluded, again asking that the president also not sign legislation that “incrementally” enacts FOCA.