Catholic Bishops Condemn Proposed Legislation
Special Report - Nov 13, 2008
The Catholic Bishops of the United States released a statement this week, strongly condemning the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to sign upon taking office. Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), formally issued the statement on November 12, after its approval by the Bishops General Assembly during their semiannual conference. According to the statement, the enactment of FOCAwhich would codify abortion rights in the United Stateswould be considered an attack on the church. The Bishops warn that FOCA will reduce religious freedom, legalize the use of federal tax dollars to fund abortions, and alienate millions of pro-life Americans. “It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil,” the statement said.
The USCCB is concerned about statements made by the President-elect and Congressional leadership, calling for swift passage of the radically pro-abortion FOCA bill. FOCA would essentially set the pro-life movement back three decades by over-turning about 300 state restrictions on abortion. These restrictions include bans on partial-birth and late term abortions, parental notification and consent requirements for minors seeking abortions, and required medical care for infants who survive abortion attempts. The Bishops’ statement warns that FOCA “would deprive the American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry,” while coercing all Americans to subsidize and promote abortion through their taxes. Federal and state protections for doctors, nurses, and health care works whose consciences do not permit them to participate in abortion procedures would also be in jeopardy. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki said that Catholic hospitals would close before complying with new regulations under FOCA that would require them to perform abortions as a condition of receiving federal funding.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, in which close to 54 percent of U.S. Catholics voted for Barack Obama, over 60 Catholic American bishops issued statements reminding Catholic voters of the primary responsibility of candidates to promote policies that protect innocent human life by taking vocal pro-life stands against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and euthanasia. This most recent statement by the Bishops reiterated that point. “The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our parents. A good state protects the lives of all,” the Bishops wrote in the statement. “Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected.” The Bishops made a point of expressing their “desire to work with the [Obama] administration” on a multitude of important issues, including immigration, economic justice, health care, education, religious freedom, and domestic and international peace. The USCCB Conference concludes November 13.
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