| November 12,
Catholic Bishops Battle Obama on Abortion
by Mike McManus
BALTIMORE - While Catholic bishops welcome working with the Obama Administration
on immigration and health care reform - they stoutly oppose Obama's championing
of a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) they said would be "more radical than the 1973
Supreme Court decision," Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion.
"FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with
their tax dollars," said Chicago Cardinal Francis George in a statement issued
on behalf of all Catholic bishops at their meeting this week in Baltimore.
"Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be outlawed, as
would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth abortion and protecting
infants born alive after a failed abortion. The Hyde Amendment restricting the
federal funding of abortions would be abrogated. FOCA would have lethal
consequences for prenatal human life."
The Supreme Court has held that states have a right to pass laws limiting
abortion, such as parental notification laws now in 32 states, requiring parents
be informed if their underaged daughter is seeking an abortion. When girls know
they'd have to tell their parents if they get pregnant and want an abortion,
fewer have sex. Result:teen abortions fell from 461,000 in 1979 to 250,000 by
The Supreme Court has also ruled that the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act was
not only legal, but the court held that government has "a legitimate interest in
protecting fetal life," as long as there is no "substantial obstacle to the
woman's right to choose."
However, if Congress were to pass FOCA, those abortion limitations would be
brushed aside. Why? Up till now, Congress has not passed a law legalizing
abortion. Indeed, FOCA establishes a federal "abortion right" through all nine
months of pregnancy, including a full-developed child in the last weeks of
pregnancy. The National Organization for Women says FOCA would "sweep away
hundreds of anti-abortion laws (and) policies."
Obama told Planned Parenthood last July, "The first thing I'd do as president is
sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing I'd do."
That's what has alarmed Catholic bishops. "Any one of us here would consider it
a privilege to die tomorrow - die tomorrow - to bring about the end of
abortion," declared Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis. Therefore, he
said bishops "should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all
kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."
Auxiliary Chicago Bishop Thomas Paprocki asserted "The next step would be for
federal law to require abortions by all hospitals, which we cannot do. We'd need
to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals
completely. I don't think I'm being alarmist."
Cardinal George, President of the Catholic Bishops, said FOCA "would 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."
My son, Tim McManus, CEO of a hospital in Gulfport, MS, Garden Park Medical
Center, says that "Very few hospitals do elective abortions. Many Ob-Gyn doctors
refuse to do them. Hospitals are able to manage what services they want to
offer. The Federal Government can't require us to offer an elective surgery,
such as abortion, while we are required to offer emergency services."
FOCA could change those rules.
What angers Douglas Johnson of National Right to Life is that Obama presented
himself during the fall as someone committed to reducing the number of
abortions. However, what has reduced the number of abortions from 1.6 million
to 1.2 million - are the very changes in state laws that would be wiped out by
FOCA. Abortions would only increase if he signs the law.
For example, if the Hyde Amendment that has blocked federal funding of abortions
is repealed by FOCA, there will be more abortions. Indeed, one study estimates
that there are one million Americans alive today because of the 1976 Hyde
Catholic bishops believe the election was decided by the deteriorating economy,
not due to Obama's position on abortion. Cardinal George warned that if Obama
misinterprets the election "as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by
the President-elect will be impossible to achieve.
"Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and
the common good...Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive
orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be seen
by many as an attack on the free exercise of religion."
Some 54 percent of Catholics voted for Obama, despite their bishops. However,
tens of millions of evangelicals agree with the bishops.
Obama has been warned.
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abortion and infanticide,