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WHAT IS FOCA? FREEDOM OF CHOICE ACT

FOCA is the proposed Freedom of Choice Act.  It has a Senate form of the Bill and a House form. The bills are identical except for the people sponsoring them.

The main thrust of the bill is to make abortion incontrovertibly legal on a Federal level, overriding any state limitations to abortions or caveats, past present or future.

The bill in Section 2.15makes use of interstate commerce as a reason for the Federal Government’s authrority in foisting its power over the individual states.  It states in line 10 of the Findings section that women have had to cross state lines to receive abortions, and that clinics buy medical equipment across statelines, therefore it presumes authority as a federal matter.  The danger, of course is that the same rationale could be used in a limitless number of Congressional initiatives like enforcing a Federal heinous crimes penalty, or death penalty, in that:  people often cross state lines to commit murder, people are murdered across state lines, police authorities and laboratories and elected officials must work across state lines.  This could result in a penalty that is either way too leniant in some people’s viewpoint, like 10 actual years for a person who has committed a violent premeditated murder, up to the death penalty, depending on who is in power in the U.S, Congress at the time the law is enacted.  Though the authority regarding interstate commerce has been used before, the precedent of using it to create laws on a statutory level for purposes of overriding states rights, laws and statutes could provide an open door for extremist legislation from either the right or the left, particularly if it is unchallenged by the courts, and instituted on a statutory level, as is proposed in the bill itself.

The bill provides that parties who were forced to cross state lines to  receive desired abortions, or did not otherwise have an abortion provider available to them in their county would be able to file suit against their local county, municipal, or state government for the absence of such a clinic, and to sue in civil court for monetary damages.  Strangely, the bill also provides that a person who does not have the full range of services available to them for bearing a child or being able to bare a child, will likewise be able to sue the local, state, or county governments.  The lawsuit provision is in section 4.C. and it is very plainly stated.

The term government is very broadly defined by the bill, and is defined so as to even be able to include hospital boards.  The language reads in section 3.1 “GOVERNMENT – The term ‘government’ includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, or official ( or other individual acting under color of law) of the United States, A State, or a subdivision of a State.”

Clearly, the definition is so broad it could include a pack of wild coyotes.

In providing that a person could sue a county government or any other government for failing to have a facility to provide them with an abortion, the bill makes it necessary for the Federal Government to provide funding for these clinics in the ’87 percent of the counties of the United States [which] have no abortion provider. (Section 2.10).

The funding for the construction of these clinics would be expected to be provided for if the bill becomes law and then moves to committee for appropriations.  If this, of course were not the case it would be impossible for Congress to make it a law that an individual could sue a county, state or local government for not providing an ‘abortion provider’ when in fact that county may have no financial means to do so.  In order for this bill to have any teeth, and to be enforceable,  Congress would have to then provide the funding for a considerably large funding of abortion clinics throughout the United States to address what Section 2 of the Bill mentions in its findings, that “87 percent of the counties … have no abortion provider..” (section 2.10) and the bill should provide that “women should also have more meaningful access to  family planning services  that prevent unintended pregnancies…” (section 2.11). 

This, of course, would be a breach of the Constitutional Freedom of Religion, for people who are in conscience and religion opposed to this, would not only be forced to accept abortions as Federal Statute, but would be expected to pay for them and for the construction of the clinics. 

Any individual who does not understand this in the bill would need to understand how bills become law, and how committees then fund what is expected or provided for in the bill.  A good example of this is the Patriot Act, which proposed the necessity and provision for many services and facilities.  While it did not specifically mention a dollar amount for the funding of each of these facilities, these items become appropriated and funded in due course…”

One reason, of course, that bills do not specify dollar amounts for funding is that the actual dollar amount ‘needed’ could change over the life of the process…

It’s worthy to note that with regard to the language of the bill, it’s fairly apparent that the authors of the bill cared to reduce the evaluation of ‘viability outside of the womb’  almost to an arbitrary nature.  In fact, it’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that this bill’s definition of  viability could extend the question well into one’s midlife. 

The bill not only attempts a great squelching of the authority of individual states and the Freedom of Religion, it would also provide for a considerable expenditure in a time of great economic duress. 

Some of the feared outcome of the Bill is that it will

1.) Further divide an already divided population by taking the most incendiary topic amongst the population and foisting it upon half of the people.  This would be a direct contradiction of the promise of non-partisanship that the Democratic Party ran on in the 2008 election; particularly, President Obama ran under the flag of being a uniter,  a president who would end partisanship and bickering along party lines.  He stressed the need to ‘work togthether’ as part of his plans for ‘Change.’  Yet, on January 24th when he approved the funding for Overseas abortions, and reversed the decision to refrain from funding Foreign Abortions, he dashed the  hopes amongst many who saw him as a person who would move to end the factiousness on Capitol Hill.  He took the most inflammatory issue between Republicans and Democrats, and made it clear that the left would have their way.  He did so committing over a 1/2 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money, during a time of extreme economic duress, with a stimulus package barely drafted, and monetary institutions failing.

There is a further concern amongst the Catholic Bishops that the FOCA ACT if made law would threaten Catholic Health Care Instituions and Catholic Charities.  When one considers the premise under which it would be enacted, i.e. interstate commerce, and the statement in part 2.15 of the bill, that “(B) reproductive health clinics are commercial actors that regularly purchase medicine, medical equipment …. from out of State Suppliers…”     – it becomes apparent that the concern of the Catholic Bishops is a realistic one.

The Catholic Bishops released a Statement on November 12, 2008 reflecting that this bill if made law would threaten also the freedoms of doctors, nurses, and other health-care employees.  It would make legal and unstoppable partial birth abortion.  In the statement the Catholic Bishops aso mention that parental notification would be halted, and infants born – alive after a failed abortion would have no legal protection.

The presence of Catholic and other parochial hospitals that will not perform abortions is of inestimable value to the general good of the population.  There has been some speculation that any bill that would seek to force such institutions into compliance of the direction of the FOCA act, would likely result in the closing of a large number of these instituions, as the Catholic Church has an official position against abortion.  The Church’s publication of Humanae Vitae is notable with regard to this topic.

There are several initiatives against this bill.  Aside from the ones sponsored by the various FAITH’s:

 One interesting one is the “Boycott California”initiative.  This initiative relates to the fact that there is a disproportionate number of  authors on the bill from California (Miller, Sanchez, Thompson…) and of course the theologian and verbal supporter of abortion,  Nancy Pelosi is also from California;  one of the authors and proponents of the bill in the Senate is Barbara Boxer.

-John P. Schumake


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