The Freedom of Choice Act

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The continued fight for life: The Freedom of Choice Act

"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do." -- Senator Barack Obama, speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007

President-elect Barack Obama made a promise in the summer of 2007 to Planned Parenthood supporters. The promise highlighted the signing of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). FOCA is a proposed federal law to nullify virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. President-elect Obama’s statement was more than an empty pledge. He emphasized signing FOCA will be the “first thing” he’ll do as president. Prolife people have kept the Freedom of Choice Act from reaching any president’s desk.

Understanding the Freedom of Choice Act:

The “Freedom of Choice Act” would invalidate Michigan’s commonsense laws which have been passed since the two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

The so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) S. 1173, sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D- Ca.), would invalidate any federal, state, or local government law, regulation, policy, or action that would "deny or interfere with" a woman's access to abortion prior to "viability," or which would "discriminate against the exercise of" this right in the regulation or provision of any "benefits, facilities, services, or information."

This ban would apply absolutely prior to fetal "viability," and also apply after "viability" to any abortion sought on grounds of "health," which is not defined in the bill and which therefore would include any physical or emotional factor whatsoever.

FOCA is sometimes referred to as a bill to "codify Roe v. Wade." This is misleading because the sponsors of the bill have acknowledged that it would invalidate many laws that have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court under Roe v. Wade, including laws restricting government funding of abortion, limits on abortion in public or military facilities, full-disclosure counseling requirements, and bans on partial-birth abortion. It would also invalidate all laws requiring parental or judicial notification or consent for abortions performed on minors, laws that permit health care providers to opt out of participation in abortion on conscience grounds, laws prohibiting non-physicians from performing abortions, and waiting periods. The House companion bill, sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), is H.R. 1964.

If FOCA passed, the following laws in Michigan may be in jeopardy: Ultrasound Viewing Option; Abortion Prepayment Prohibition; Informed Consent for Abortion; Clinic Regulations; Abortion Complications Reporting; Abortion Coverage for State Employees; Parental Consent for Abortion; Conscience Clause for Abortion; and our Ban on Medicaid Abortion Coverage.

FOCA History

An earlier version of the Freedom of Choice Act was pushed by pro-abortion forces beginning in the late 1980s. When President Bill Clinton, a FOCA supporter, took office in January 1993, Planned Parenthood predicted that the FOCA would be law within six months. But the bill died after an education and lobbying campaign.

Enthusiasm for the original FOCA faded after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the 1994 election.

The most recent version of FOCA was introduced in April 2007 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. Gonzales v. Carhart upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion.

Prolife Action Items

The Freedom of Choice Act cannot be signed into law until it passes through both chambers of Congress, the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. Right to Life of Michigan will be working closely with National Right to Life to monitor this legislation and to lobby our lawmakers. Currently, Right to Life of Michigan is making an on-line petition available. This petition allows the people of Michigan to be on record regarding their opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act. We also encourage you to tell a friend about the Freedom of Choice Act and the promise made by President-elect Obama.

Visit www.rtl.org to sign up to receive e-mail updates regarding the Freedom of Choice Act and other pertinent life centered information.

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