Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Missouri Senate to Consider Resolution Calling on Congress to Reject Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) that Threatens Missouri Pro-Life Laws -- Fight FOCA *Now*

Missouri Senate to Consider Resolution Calling on Congress to Reject Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) that Threatens Missouri Pro-Life Laws

Congress is confronting one of the most serious threats to unborn human life in the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). In simplest terms, if enacted, FOCA would abolish essentially all restrictions and limitations on abortion, both at the federal and state level.

FOCA is concurrently introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S House. Neither of Missouri senators co-sponsored the legislation, but Missouri Representatives William "Lacy" Clay and Russ Carnahan co-sponsored the House legislation. President Barack Obama promised during his election campaign that he would sign the FOCA into law, promising at a Planned Parenthood Action Fund event in 2007:

"I've stood up for the freedom of choice in the United States Senate ... There will always be people, many of goodwill, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield ... the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do. "

FOCA defines abortion before viability as a "fundamental" right - something that goes beyond even the original 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

In Roe, the Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to privacy that encompasses abortion, but that the states may act within limits to protect health, medical standards, and prenatal life. Over the past 35 years, a wide range of abortion regulations have been enacted by Congress and the Missouri General Assembly and upheld by the courts as not running afoul of the Court's decision in Roe. All of these pro-life protections are now in danger!

Passage of FOCA could invalidate numerous pro-life laws, including:

* The Hyde Amendment that restricts taxpayer funding of abortion
* Laws that require a woman's decision to have an abortion be an informed decision
* Laws that require that a parent be informed before their minor child has an abortion
* Laws requiring that abortions only be performed by licensed physicians
* Abortion clinic regulations
* Government programs and facilities that pay for or provide childbirth or other health care services need not pay for abortions
* Laws protecting the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and hospitals
* Laws requiring a waiting period before an abortion is performed
* Laws preventing post-viability sex-selection abortions
* Laws requiring that abortion providers maintain records of abortions performed

FOCA also prevents government from discriminating or treating abortion differently in government benefits, facilities, or services. As a result, legislation that funds alternatives to abortion but not abortion itself could be considered discriminatory against abortion. Also public hospitals that provide services related to childbirth but not abortion could be considered discriminatory.

FOCA gives persons the ability to file a lawsuit for any violation of FOCA. A person could file a lawsuit against a physician for refusing to perform an abortion. Conscience laws protecting individuals, businesses or religious institutions from performing abortions might no longer be enforceable.

The Fallacy of Fewer Abortions

FOCA supporters argue that removing restrictions on abortion will actually decrease the number of abortions. According to the pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America, there are seven states that have enacted FOCA-type laws. But enacting FOCA did not lead to a decrease in abortions in these states. In contrast in Missouri, where no FOCA-type law has been enacted but instead strong pro-life protections have been put into place, Missouri's abortion rate has remained significantly below the national average.

What can be done?

Missouri needs to send a strong message to Congress to reject FOCA. Soon parishes across the state will participate in a campaign designed to send thousands of postcards to Missouri's Congressional delegation urging the defeat of FOCA. But another strong message needs to be sent by our Missouri General Assembly. The Missouri State Senate is considering a resolution that calls on Missouri's Congressional delegation to reject FOCA. Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 11 is sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit) and co-sponsored by twenty-one other state senators. The resolution awaits approval by the Senate Rules Joint Resolutions and Ethics Committee, chaired by Sen. Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), before being referred to the entire Senate for debate.

Action Requested: Contact your State Senator TODAY! (See contact information in the upper left section of this e-mail.)

The Message: Urge support for SCR 11 calling on Missouri's Congressional delegation to reject enactment of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Tell your State Senator that passage of FOCA would overturn many of Missouri's pro-life laws. Mention some of the laws listed above that could be invalidated if FOCA is enacted.

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