USCCB News Release
September 22, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pro-Life Chair To Congress: "We Can't Reduce Abortions By Promoting Abortion"
WASHINGTON—Writing to all members of Congress on September 19, Cardinal Justin Rigali warned against enactment of the proposed "Freedom of Choice Act" or "FOCA" (S. 1173, H.R. 1964).
"Despite its deceptive title," he wrote, "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. 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."
Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote that under FOCA "abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women." While some have said the bill would simply codify the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he added, supporters of FOCA say it "would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies" that are now in effect because they do not conflict with Roe. 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.
With his letter, Cardinal Rigali enclosed a legal analysis by the bishops' Office of General Counsel documenting the extreme legal impact of FOCA.
"Members of both parties have sought to reach a consensus on ways to reduce abortions in our society," wrote Cardinal Rigali. He cited laws restricting and regulating abortion, and "bipartisan legislation providing practical support to help women carry their pregnancies to term, such as the Pregnant Women Support Act (S. 2407, H.R. 3192)," while noting evidence that programs promoting access to contraception do not generally reduce abortions.
"However," wrote Cardinal Rigali, "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."
Cardinal Rigali urged 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 his letter can be found at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCArigaliltr.pdf. The legal analysis of FOCA by the USCCB Office of General Counsel is at www.usccb.org/prolife/FOCAanalysis.pdf.