The Freedom of Choice Act
Yet another look…
In the aftermath of the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision in 1989, which permitted certain limited restrictions on abortion, Congress considered a “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) which was designed to prevent any further intrusions on the “right” to choose abortion.
Knowing full well that President Bush would veto the bill and that Congress would not be able to override a presidential veto, the 1989 version ofFOCA died with hardly a whimper.
FOCA was given a new lease on life [no pun intended] last year when the Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, approved several provisions of a Pennsylvania statute restricting abortion in that state. The 1992 version of FOCA, despite rabid support by a highly vocal and very visible coalition of abortion enthusiasts, died yet another well-deserved death in the days just before the presidential elections. Supporters tried to lay the blame at the feet of George Bush who would, of course, have vetoed the measure, but the real – and little publicized – truth of the matter was that many “pro-choice” members of Congress found the legislation simply too radical to swallow.
With the election of Bill Clinton, abortion supporters have once again resurrected FOCA in a new 1993 version: H.R.25.
FOCA in its HR. 25 apparition provides that ” a State may not restrict the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy- (1) before fetal viability; or at any time, if such termination is necessary to protect the life and health of the woman. … A State may impose requirements medically necessary to protect the life or health of women referred to” above.
It also contains provisions which would let stand state laws regarding minors as well as so-called “conscience” clauses. Sub-section (c) reads as follows:
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prevent a State -
(1) from requiring a minor to involve a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult before terminating a pregnancy; or
(2) from protecting unwilling individuals from having to participate in the performance of abortions to which they are conscientiously opposed.
While the introduction of these provisions softens some of the radical nature of the earlier FOCA versions, the measure nevertheless remains what it first set out to be: a pure and simple codification of Roe v. Wade with the intent of eliminating most state regulation.
The nation’s Catholic bishops have mounted a broad-based campaign calling on all Catholics to write their representatives and senators and urge them to oppose FOCA. Diocesan papers across the country have carried front-page stories urging Catholics to exercise their political clout in order to block passage of this outrageous legislation.
The National Right to Life Committee through its state affiliates, and every other pro-life organization worthy of the name have pulled out all the stops in their efforts to stop FOCA. And there are indications that these efforts are bearing some fruit. Many representatives who have supported “pro-choice” legislation in the past have indicated that they are undecided or opposed to FOCA.
Bill Clinton campaigned on a platform committed to passage of FOCA. If this legislation passes on Capitol hill, we can rest assured that it will be signed at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. FOCA must not be allowed to take that journey. The only place to stop FOCA is in Congress.