Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 24, 2008
Bishops fear Democrats will ease abortion laws
By PATRICIA ZAPORr
In a January 2008 statement, Obama said he would support passage of the Freedom of Choice Act.
The statement elaborated on concerns about the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, including concerns that it 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.”
It said the bill “would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars,” and would counteract any efforts to reduce the number of abortions in the country.
Statutes requiring parental notification when minors receive abortions, informed-consent provisions and bans on procedures such as partial-birth abortion would also be prohibited.
It raised concern that abortion clinics would no longer be regulated, that a current ban on federal funding of abortion would end and that it would “have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.”
Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities would be threatened, it said, because the bill would have a “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.”
The Freedom of Choice Act has been introduced in at least the last four sessions of Congress without any action.
Other versions go back to the early 1990s. In 1993, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, the Senate Labour and Human Resources Committee approved that year’s version. But it never reached a floor vote and saw no action in the House.
In a January 2008 statement, Obama said he would support passage of the Freedom of Choice Act. The latest version introduced in April 2007 is intended to take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, re-establishing federal protection of legal abortion, regardless of what state laws might exist.
The statement from the bishops noted the recent election “was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families.”
If the election “is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve,” it said. Besides alienating tens of millions of people, erasing restrictions on abortion “would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion,” it said.
The statement said the bishops’ prayers accompany Obama and his family and those “who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in government.”
During a discussion at the bishops’ meeting, Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., recommended emphasizing Obama’s campaign call to personal responsibility. “That was a message that resonated with the prominent Catholics who decided to support him and it may be the basis for seeking common ground,” he said.
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