When Barack Obama appeared at a PP event during the primary campaign, he promised PP, "The first thing I will do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."
What is the Freedom of Choice Act?
Simply put, if passed, the Freedom of Choice Act would do away with all legal restrictions on abortion. It would eliminate parental consent laws, waiting periods, restrictions on partial-birth abortion and any other restrictions that have been enacted at the state and federal level.
FOCA would not prevent pro-life activity by groups and individuals. Picketing, prayer vigils, sidewalk counseling, pregnancy resource centers, truth tours, GAP projects and much more could all continue as before.
What is the actual wording of FOCA?
FOCA is a bill introduced in Congress. It must be voted on and approved by both chambers of Congress and then signed into law by the president. There are currently two bills in Congress: one in the House (H.R.1964) and one in the Senate (S.1173). Both bills contain the same wording:
(a) Statement of Policy - It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
(b) Prohibition of Interference - A government may not -
(1) deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose -
(A) to bear a child;
(B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
(C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or
(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.
(c) Civil Action - An individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may obtain appropriate relief (including relief against a government) in a civil action
What is the status of FOCA bills?
It is important to note that the election means that in January, we will have a new Congress. The current Congress is designated as the 110th Congress. It will cease to exist at the end of the year. In January, the 111th Congress will begin and all of the newly elected members of the House and Senate will be part of the 111th Congress. All existing bills must be re-introduced in the new Congress and assigned new numbers. Then the legislative process for each of them starts from scratch.
The current House bill (H.R.1964), originally introduced on April 19, 2007, was referred to the Judiciary Committee on May 4, 2007 and has sat there ever since. It has 109 co-sponsors. The current Senate bill (S.1173) was also originally introduced on April 19, 2007 and referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it still sits. It has 19 co-sponsors, including Barack Obama.
Again, these current bills will disappear with the start of the new Congress, and the bills will have to be re-introduced. Under normal circumstances, it would take months for them to come up for a vote, but they could be fast-tracked.
What does Planned Parenthood have to say about FOCA?
PPFA President Cecile Richards issued the following statement on the introduction of FOCA on April 19, 2007:
"Every year, millions of women depend on Planned Parenthood for reproductive health care services, including birth control, cancer screenings, and abortion. We challenged the federal abortion ban in court because it jeopardizes women's health and safety.
"The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling yesterday [upholding the partial-birth abortion law] in this case represents a seismic shift for the Supreme Court and the nation. With new Bush appointees, this court has unraveled more than 30 years of precedent protecting women's health. For the first time, the court told women that, when their health is at risk during pregnancy, deciding what to do is no longer up to them and their doctors, it is instead up to politicians. The future of legal access to abortion in this country is grim."
"It's time for Congress to stand up for women's health, women's safety, and a woman's right to make her own medical decisions. American women deserve the protection of federal law to preserve their right to make personal health care decisions free of government intrusion. We call on Congress to pass the Freedom of Choice Act."
Thus, it is clear that PP sees FOCA as a means to secure abortion-on-demand throughout the country. FOCA must be stopped.
What can you do?
Despite the fact that Obama is actively supporting this horrible bill and the Democratic Party is firmly in control of both chambers of Congress, passage of this bill is not inevitable. We have spoken with a number of pro-life members of Congress and their staff, and they believe that FOCA can be stopped.
But doing so will require a very active campaign by pro-lifers across the country.
The first and most critical part of the effort to stop FOCA is for you to contact your members of Congress and let them know how you feel about FOCA. Remember that FOCA is an extreme measure that even many people who call themselves "pro-choice" are against.
1. Remind your congressional representatives that the overwhelming majority of Americans are in favor of parents being notified when their minor children are to have an abortion. Over 30 states have laws in place requiring some form of parental notification. Yet FOCA would undo this legal requirement.
2. Point out that almost all Americans find the partial-birth abortion procedure abhorrent and want it stopped. Yet, FOCA would strike down all the laws against this procedure.Now is the time for action. Contact your elected officials and encourage all of your friends to do the same.
Iowans For LIFE has launched an educational effort to inform the Iowa public of the dangers of this legislation. FOCA is such a threat to the lives of preborn babies that we really need your help now. Your tax-deductible donation can help defray the costs of our educational campaign and allow us to reach as many people as possible with the truth about FOCA.
PLEASE consider making a donation now.