Purity of Heart: The Moral Life - Current Issues: FOCA
"A Good State Protects the Lives of All"
US Bishops on the Freedom of Choice Act
November 12, 2008
The following is the
statement of Cardinal Francis George, the president of the U.S.
episcopal conference, published at the end of the bishops' three-day
Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor; if the
Lord does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep
vigil." (Psalm 127, vs. 1)
The Bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States welcome this
moment of historic transition and look forward to working with
President-elect Obama and the members of the new Congress for the
common good of all. Because of the Church's history and the scope of
her ministries in this country, we want to continue our work for
economic justice and opportunity for all; our efforts to reform laws
around immigration and the situation of the undocumented; our
provision of better education and adequate health care for all,
especially for women and children; our desire to safeguard religious
freedom and foster peace at home and abroad. The Church is intent on
doing good and will continue to cooperate gladly with the government
and all others working for these goods.
The fundamental good is life itself, a gift from God and our
parents. A good state protects the lives of all. Legal protection
for those members of the human family waiting to be born in this
country was removed when the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade in
1973. This was bad law. The danger the Bishops see at this moment is
that a bad court decision will be enshrined in bad legislation that
is more radical than the 1973 Supreme Court decision itself.
In the last Congress, a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) was introduced
that would, if brought forward in the same form today, outlaw any
"interference" in providing abortion at will. It would deprive the
American people in all fifty states of the freedom they now have to
enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.
FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting
abortion with their tax dollars. It would counteract any and all
sincere efforts by government and others of good will to reduce the
number of abortions in our country.
Parental notification and informed consent precautions would be
outlawed, as would be laws banning procedures such as partial-birth
abortion and protecting infants born alive after a failed abortion.
Abortion clinics would be deregulated. The Hyde Amendment
restricting the federal funding of abortions would be abrogated.
FOCA would have lethal consequences for prenatal human life.
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of
conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal
convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing
of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care
institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that
would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are
of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also
pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished
because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby.
Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological
and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression
of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they
are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the
economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for
families, here and around the world. If the election is
misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity
desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of
crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn
children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good,
which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally
protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and
executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of
Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free
exercise of their religion.
This statement is written at the request and direction of all the
Bishops, who also want to thank all those in politics who work with
good will to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
Those in public life do so, sometimes, at the cost of great
sacrifice to themselves and their families; and we are grateful. We
express again our great desire to work with all those who cherish
the common good of our nation. The common good is not the sum total
of individual desires and interests; it is achieved in the working
out of a common life based upon good reason and good will for all.
Our prayers accompany President-elect Obama and his family and those
who are cooperating with him to assure a smooth transition in
government. Many issues demand immediate attention on the part of
our elected "watchman." (Psalm 127) May God bless him and our
© Innovative Media, Inc.
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and