Monday, December 8, 2008

Freedom of Choice Act: An Abolition of Choice

President Elect Barack Obama’s “honeymoon” could come to a screeching halt if he ends up signing into law the “Freedom of Choice Act”, which not only removes all legal obstacles to abortion, but other critical safeguards such as parental consent requirements and the right of religious hospitals to refuse involvement in providing abortions.

According to Ray Kerrison, FOCA may be the most radical social legislation in decades. It seeks to strip every last restraint from abortion - outlawing states’ requirements for waiting periods, informed consent or parental consent; preventing health and safety regulation of abortion clinics and abortionists - and even ending restrictions on partial-birth abortion.”

The law would overturn hundreds of local,state and federal laws governing abortion, laws that involved the input of citizens and reflected their concerns.

Freedom of Choice Act is a grotesque misnomer. Millions of individual health care providers would under the act be required to violate the cardinal tenets of their faith by performing abortions.

According to Kerrison, “The law would also compel taxpayers to fund abortions and provide abortions in military hospitals. Most provocatively of all, it would force religious hospital and health-care institutions to perform abortions in violation of their convictions.”

Barack Obama has a stellar reputation with abortion rights activists, who give him a 100% approval rating. In a speech to Planned Parenthood in July of 2007, Obama pledged his support to FOCA, saying“The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do . . . On this issue I will not yield.”

The political landscape has changed since Obama’s speech in July. An economic crisis shifted the political landscape to Obama’s advantage. When people see their own fortunes as being shaky or threatened, they tend to blame the sitting President. The timing of the financial crises that erupted one after the other are probably what put Barack Obama in power.

The country needs a united consensus on economic issues. Many conservatives are willing to soft pedal their objections to Obama’s economic strategy. Human life is another matter. The legal status of abortions that are not to protect the physical life of the mother are as objectionable to some as slavery was in its time. Its differing legal status from one state to another is considered to be as much a moral abdication as was the existence of free states and slave states. An overriding moral code does not lose its validity at the border between one state and another.

The Dred Scott decision in 1857 forced the return of an escaped slave from a free state to a slave state. It forced states in which African Americans were regarded as having human rights to grant recognition to the moral code of states in which African American’s only superiority over livestock was their monetary value. In this legal decision, slavery proponents went on the legal offensive, casting a looming shadow through the Supreme Court over states in which slavery was outlawed. It was a disruption of a morally unsatisfactory status quo in which different value systems coexisted uneasily under one federal framework.

Abortion is a similar intersection of moral and legal questions. The issues debated in a state legislature concerning it have moral implications that reach across every border. Like America before the Civil War, there is an uneasy truce that allows every individual human born to judge the fate of those unborn.

The Freedom of Choice Act is , like the Dred Scott decision a seismic shift in the border between those who support and those who oppose abortion. Those who believe that abortion is murder in some or all circumstances are being forced to commit murder. Hospitals that refuse to comply would face sanctions and closings.

The Catholic Church would actually close its hospitals rather than comply with the proposed government policy. Ray Kerrison reports as follows on the reaction of one church official in Chicago.

“Chicago’s Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki went further. He said flatly that if the Obama administration attempted to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, they’d shut them down rather than comply.

There are grave consequences,” he said. “It would not be sufficient to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.”(emphasis mine)

Freedom of choice should include the freedom to raise one’s chilldren according to the principles of one’s chosen faith. Religious schools have been refused the right to be financed at an equal rate to government run schools. This effectively puts a punitive tariff on the transmission of pro life values. When parents are denied the right to be told that a child is having an abortion, it is substituting the dubious wisdom of the state for parental judgment. It is not only religious hospitals but religious homes that are being invaded under the authority of the new statute.

The abrogation of the rights of religious hospitals and private homes will not stop with the matter of abortion. It will certainly be a precedent through which the authority of parents will be limited and diminished in other matters.

The proponents of abortion are motivated by a set of guiding principals. The opponents of abortion are now faced with a battle they must fight. It is no longer the public square buRemove Formatting from selectiont their own homes that are being invaded under the proposed statute. The “choice” they once had in the matter of abortion and even in the matter of raising their children in values they deem proper is about to be abrogated.

We have an economy in crisis on multiple fronts. A united electorate would be a great asset in facing our country’s challenges. If Obama seeks to fight this battle, he has a reservoir of good will and the benefit of a serious doubt on the part of many fiscal conservatives.

If, however he chooses to press the Freedom of Choice Act, he will face opponents as impassioned and driven as the most ardent abolitionists. He will have impassioned opponents fighting not in the public square but on their front doorsteps. And they won’t back down.

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