Focus on FOCA

Steven Mosher
PRI Weekly Briefing
16 February 2009
Vol. 11 / No. 06
Reproduced with Permission

Barack Obama's first act as president was not, as he had promised, to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This misbegotten piece of legislation was not waiting on his desk when he entered the Oval Office. The Congress had yet to consider it. This slight delay does not mean that we can relax our guard. For FOCA would cement abortion-on-demand into law and muzzle all dissent. That means you and I, folks. To put it another way: If the ultimate victory for the pro-life movement is a Human Life Amendment, which would define life as beginning at conception and confer constitutional protection on the unborn from that point, then its evil twin is FOCA. This Act is everything that the pro-abortion Left has ever dreamed of imposing on the rest of us.

FOCA's language is uncompromising, even strident, in its abortion absolutism. If passed, the FOCA would prohibit any interference with a woman's "right" to "terminate a pregnancy prior to viability or . . . after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman." It would also prohibit "discrimination . . . in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information."

There is no doubt that FOCA would be far worse than Roe v. Wade. If passed and signed into law, it would:

As you can see, FOCA leaves no room for "moderates" on the abortion issue. The abortion movement intends to use it as a kind of abortion "litmus test." And in a Congress where the majority is supposedly in favor of abortion, it may stand a good chance of passage.

But it is by no means a done deal.

In the past, the FOCA bill stalled not only because of the efforts of pro-lifers, but because its hard-edged language made moderates uncomfortable. Although pro-abortion activists now lead the House and Senate, many moderate Democrats are still uneasy, and may balk at marching lockstep with Pelosi and Reid if they hear from enough of their constituents.

Pro-life leaders like Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), among others, are working very hard to convince their colleagues that the bill's abortion extremism should disqualify it from passage. The bill will face a tough battle to make it to the President's desk.

For this reason, some say that FOCA has been moved to the back burner. We at PRI do not believe it. Consider that House Democrats recently voted to change the House's "fairness rules" in ways that make it far more difficult for the minority to retain a meaningful voice in House proceedings. This dictatorial action makes the passage of controversial legislation like FOCA far easier.

Moreover, Obama's presence in the White House continues to embolden the pro-abortion movement, the leaders of which know that they have a friend in the Oval Office. Already, they are leaning on the moderates in their ranks. And already, some moderate Democrats have bowed to this pressure.

Take Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, for example. Casey, who ran as a pro-lifer, recently dismayed many of his constituents by voting against the pro-life Mexico City policy. Would he again betray his campaign promises and vote in favor of FOCA? No one knows.

FOCA is a real threat. At the same time, we remain convinced that, if the pro-life movement unites against it, it need not pass.

But in order for FOCA to be turned back, pro-lifers must come to the aid of the Pro-Life Caucus by mobilizing as many Americans as possible. If there was ever a time to be contacting Senators and Congressmen, it is now. We must energize the pro-life community as never before.

To stop FOCA, there are several things that we must do.

First, we must realize that the threat of FOCA is real, and use the abortion extremism of our opponents to recruit millions of new supporters to our ranks.

Second, we will need to use the media to our advantage, by writing letters to our newspapers, and calling in to our radio stations.

Third, we will need all pro-life groups to mobilize their supporters to contact their senators and congressmen, letting them know that the FOCA is not welcome in their states and districts. But if we do these things, we will assuredly prevail.

Was Barack Obama telling the truth when he pledged to Planned Parenthood that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act? Absolutely. But if FOCA stalls in Congress, he will never have the chance.