Freedom of choice act?
By Bishop Edward K. Braxton
The election of the forty-forth president of the United States has sparked great interest and a great deal of enthusiasm not only here at home but also around the world. No matter which candidate they voted for, most Americans seem to agree that the election of President-elect Barack H. Obama is a milestone in our history. Because of the political, cultural, social, spiritual, and economic crises that our country and our world are now facing, heavy burdens of expectations are being placed on his youthful shoulders with every passing day.
The day after his election I joined with my brother bishops in expression our congratulations and our prayerful support. We assured him of our collaboration in any efforts he would make to unite the American people by healing divisions and protecting the weakest members of society. We said, in part: “Our country is confronting many uncertainties and we pray that you will use the power of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and in our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person.”
It is generally agreed that the current economic crisis had a significant impact on the presidential election. The new president has no magic wand to solve this complex crisis overnight. Nor will he be given the luxury to focus on it with a single mind. As he said during the campaign, a president must be able to multi-task. After the inauguration, I am confident that the president will make many initiatives concerning the common good that the American bishops and the Catholic faithful will be able to support with enthusiasm. At the same time we must take the words of President-elect Obama’s acceptance speech on Nov. 4th seriously: “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.”
In one of his campaign speeches, Senator Obama expressed his public support for the passing of the Freedom of Choice Act. This legislation, pending before Congress, argues that a woman has a “fundamental right” to an abortion throughout the nine months of her pregnancy. As Catholics, we are committed to a culture of life, not a culture of death. I urge every Catholic in southern Illinois to learn about this legislation and express strong opposition to it in every way possible. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard to contact the offices of your Representative and two Senators at 202-224-3121.
For more information please visit the online websites of The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at www.usccb.org and The Catholic Conference of Illinois at www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org. For information about an upcoming national postcard campaign please visit at www.nchla.org, or call Mrs. Laurie Edwards, Respect Life Ministry, Diocese of Belleville, at 235.9601.
In spite of its title, the Freedom of Choice Act actually limits freedom. If this Act is signed into law, it has the potential to have a far ranging impact. It not only eliminates legitimate conscientious choice, it, in effect, expands the scope of the laws to enhance abortion on demand.
-It makes abortion a “fundamental right.” As a result, policies now in place by the will of the people and legislatures in many states would be overridden (e.g. informed consent, parental notification and restrictions on government funding of abortions).
• It requires greater taxpayer subsidy of abortions.
• It requires an expansion of government-assisted abortions through military and public hospitals.
• It removes the free choice of nurses, doctors and other healthcare providers to refuse in good conscience to assist in abortions, a morally offensive act.
• It removes the choice of taxpayers to decline to have their money pay for morally abhorrent procedures.
• It removes the choice of state legislatures to undertake reasonable and widely accepted regulations of abortions, including those that increase education and family involvement while reducing the number of abortions.
• The so-called Freedom of Choice Act could have a profound impact on Catholic hospitals and other healthcare providers that reject abortion. It overrules state laws that currently protect the rights of Catholic hospitals, pharmacists and others to conscientiously object to performing abortions if such state laws are seen as interfering in any way with a woman’s choice to have an abortion. Such a far reaching legislation does not protect the freedom of choice of all citizens because it undermines the freedom of religion that was enshrined by the founders of our country.
On Jan. 22, 2009, we will mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion-a sad day in our history. This is just days two after the inauguration of our energetic new president. Please join me in praying for Mr. Obama and his Vice President–elect, Senator Joseph Biden, that they may use their energies in defense of human life. Let us pray as well for all newly elected members of Congress. Pray that they will lead us and guide us with a deep concern for all, especially the innocent, vulnerable developing human life in the womb.
|Mail your request:
2620 Lebanon Ave.
Belleville, IL 62221