Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri, writing in his diocesan newspaper, has discussed the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which he said would overturn all existing federal regulations on abortion. Claiming the passage of the act would lead to an increase in abortions, he also questioned whether pro-life supporters of pro-choice politicians have their priorities “backwards.”
Writing in his latest column for The Catholic Key, Bishop Finn said “It is clear that FOCA would immediately make null and void every current restriction on abortion in all jurisdictions.”
Though Bishop Finn did not mention any presidential candidates by name, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama has pledged to pass FOCA as his first act as president.
The legislation, which was first proposed in 1989, was reproduced in its current form by Bishop Finn in his October 1 column:
“A government may not (1) deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose – (A) to bear a child; (B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or (C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or (2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.”
According to Bishop Finn, the bill would overturn many state laws, such as abortion reporting requirements in all 50 states. It would additionally overturn states’ laws concerning parental involvement, restrictions on later-term abortions, conscience protection laws for individual health care providers, bans on partial-birth abortions, conscience protection laws for institutions, requirements for counseling before an abortion, and laws providing ultrasounds to distressed women before an abortion.
Bishop Finn said there is “very significant evidence” that the passage of parental involvement laws and ultrasound requirements help reduce the number of abortions, particularly among teenagers.
The bishop then turned to the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which in Bishop Finn’s description says “that electing candidates who have permissive or clearly pro-choice stances in support of abortion, but are determined to provide more assistance to poor and vulnerable women and families would actually help to reduce abortions in the United States.”
He said he believes the group “has its priorities backwards.”
“It seems unlikely that candidates advocating full access to abortion – which attacks the most vulnerable poor, the unborn - will at the same time have a consistent or principle-based plan for helping other poor people,” the bishop remarked.
“When a candidate pledges to provide ‘comprehensive sex education’ to school children and promises to promote – or to ‘sign immediately upon taking office’ - the Freedom of Choice Act, Catholics and all people of good will have cause to question the sincerity of the candidate’s determination to reduce abortions, when these already existing limits have caused a decrease of more than 100,000 abortions each year.”
Referring to a pastoral letter jointly authored with Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, Bishop Finn wrote:
“If we are inclined to vote for someone despite their pro-abortion stance, it seems we are morally obliged to establish a proportionate reason sufficient to justify the destruction of 45 million human persons through abortion. If we learn that our ‘candidate of choice’ further pledges – through an instrument such as FOCA - to eliminate all existing limitations against abortion, it is that much more doubtful whether voting for him or her can ever be morally justified under any circumstance.”