Why Fear FOCA?

From the pulpit, our pastor read our bishop’s statement calling for an all-out effort to keep the Freedom of Choice … Continued

From the pulpit, our pastor read our bishop’s statement calling for an all-out effort to keep the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) from becoming law. I am in solidarity with this opposition to FOCA: what I don’t understand is exaggerating the threat of this legislation to our religion. The impression that the bill was waiting for President Obama’s signature had to be officially recanted by the Pro-life Secretariat of the bishops, undercutting the urgency suggested from the pulpit. FOCA, it is now admitted, is not likely to become law any time soon.

The first version of FOCA was proposed in 1989; the most recent in 2007, and none of the versions have met with legislative success. It is true that way back in 2007 candidate Obama said he would sign such legislation into law when elected president. It is also true that support for FOCA was dropped from the Democratic Party platform and from the list of issues on Obama’s website. Despite the endless loop from YouTube that has been put up by many pro-life websites, FOCA should not scare anyone in Catholic America. Pro-life Pennsylvania Senator, Bob Casey, told Catholic Democrats that FOCA was DOA. While his alphabet-soup speech may be inelegant, Casey’s verdict seems unimpeachable.

The legal opinion delivered to the bishops is of scant help. While I do not pretend to be a lawyer, some things don’t make sense in the review the bishops paid for. Consider just two: “fundamental right” and “freedom of conscience.” Much is made about the wording of FOCA that makes a decision to abort into a “fundamental right.” The USCCB lawyer argues that by using “fundamental,” the state surrenders all potential limitation of abortion, because the right becomes permanent to each individual. However, the wording of FOCA places the right to have a child BEFORE any right to terminate a pregnancy. In other words, FOCA would prevent any government from ordering sterilizations or abortions: a mother has a “fundamental right” to bear children. This concept in the wording of FOCA strikes a blow against big government and favors of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

Would FOCA force the closure of all Catholic hospitals, put Catholic doctors and nurses into jail and violate the consciences of all health providers opposed to abortion? The USCCB lawyer on the bishops’ payroll thinks so. However, Jill Morrison, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center – not a pro-life organization – indicated that the federal conscience clause law, known as “the Church Amendment,” states that simply receiving public funding does not turn a hospital into a “state actor.” In other words, Catholic hospitals and attendant staff would not lose their rights to conscientious non-participation because of FOCA.

I respect the propagandistic value of fear tactics, but are they necessary in this case?

If FOCA is no threat as immediate legislation, why are the bishops marshalling so many Catholic resources throughout the nation? As I wrote before, the mobilization of such Pro-life forces may be a demonstration of unity among the bishops, most of whom supported the Democratic ticket. I think it is a “bone” thrown to the minority who still adhere to abortion as the single determinative issue for all Catholic voters. Moreover, such unity may breathe life into a Pro-life movement that has suffered serious body-blows in its credibility. I’m all in favor of Catholic unity and will participate in the letter-writing despite reservations.

However, the very week that the anti-FOCA campaign was announced, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples released a document highly critical of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996. Now, if the bishops are willing to use much effort and many funds taken from weekly collections to fight FOCA — a bill that is far from being brought to a vote — how much more effort and money ought to go to opposing the existing immigration law that violates Catholic teaching? In securing a just immigration law, the faithful in Catholic America will be looking to see that the bishops use the same vigorous tactics: if not, we will be writing letters of complaint to Rome.

  • jcyr4

    I wish that at some point, the Post would employ someone on the Catholic Faith who actually supports the church.Obama has an abortion record and view that can only be extreme. As an Illinois Senator, one of the few votes that he actually cast; as opposed to his popular “present”; was a vote to allow unlimited abortion even post delivery. He actually voted in favor of this legislation on four seperate occassions.His positions SHOULD cause concern, because if those in congress believe that they have cover, they will eventually go forward.

  • drpat2001

    modernity is bust. the enlightenment ratio/combined with empiricism and modern political forms, fascism, nazism, communism and liberal democracy abandoned all formal connection with tradition, which includes religion and western civilization’s fundamental principles. the result…intellectual sterility of post-modernist nihilism and relativism which has a religious counterpart in much of protestantism and unfortunately now in american catholicisms embrace of individual interpretation as an absolute. this radical secularization of the west has left us emotionally and intellectually bankrupt. on the geopolitical front, we are bankrupt because we assumed that all traditional life giving elements were dead and 9/11 and osama bin laden for all their horror show us the oppposite. yet we continue with the vietnam cold war response, kill anyone who disagrees with the political enlightenment rationalities mentioned above. we must reconnect with tradition, our western tradition and especially catholic tradition. this does not mean re-establishing the past. it does not mean obeying an increasingly ridiculous centralized “infallible” church center in rome. the pope is right. we must reconnect with our traditions. but he is wrong to think that we can ever return to a single cathechetical rome dictated uniformity that does not embrace the real concrete difference that is part and parcel of the reality of being in a human world. this is why he looks and is inefectual when this grand intellectual speaks without recognizing the grand intellectual inheritance of the catholic church. the church too must grow syncretically as it has always done before this intolerable centralization began. if the JP2 and the Benedict direction of the church remaiins in place, and i believe it may for some time, the church will be condemned to irrelevancy and the real re-articulation of our traditions for a globalized world will have to look to a return of jesus christ.

  • furtdw

    Agree with JCYR4 below.For those who are pro-life, please visit:www.fightfoca.comand add your signature. The site is self explanatory. Approximately one signature is added every 12 seconds.As importantly, please forward this web site to like minded, pro-life, extended family, friends, neighbors and, especially, church groups.No matter what, if Obama signs FOCA, he loses my vote 4 years hence.

  • persiflage

    Prof. Stevens-Arroyo is correct in his summation that justice for the living should be treated with at least equal importance, when compared to Church policies and politics on behalf of the yet-to-be-living. PS. How can one have an abortion post-delivery? Even liberals know that abortions are performed pre-delivery. Whether or not FOCA ever becomes law, we can surmise that Roe v Wade will remain the law of the land………

  • MikeL4

    Stephens-Arroyo distorts again. Nothing new. The Post, as a previous blogger states, does not employ a writer that actually supports and states what the Catholic faith is, instead we get Stephens-Arroyo who constantly tries to turn the Church into what he wants it to be. Mostly aligned with liberal politics.He quotes a pro-abortion group to bolster his argument that this potential law won’t affect the conscience clause? Does he think we are stupid? Well yes, I think he does. Because he and others helped convince many “pro-life” Catholics that Obama was “pro-life” when he by any legitimate test was not. I will continue to pray for the conversion of Obama’s heart on this matter.

  • mgloraine

    “From the pulpit, our pastor read our bishop’s statement calling for an all-out effort to keep the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) from becoming law.”As usual, preaching politics from the pulpit while still claiming tax immunity, as if this were some sort of religious institution rather than the political action committee and lobbying firm which it actually is. The time has come to end this sham and start making the catholic cult, the mormon cult, and all of the other evangelical cults register as PACs and lobbyists, and pay the taxes they owe. It’s really unfair for these cults to take in millions of dollars every week, pay no taxes, then put all of that money to work on political campaigns against freedom, against equal rights for all, against the best interests of all Americans. I object to the use of the term “pro-life” to describe the cultists. The crowd which is so desperately opposed to abortion is at the same time wildly enthusiastic about the death penalty, and sending people off to die in wars. This is actually not a philosophical conflict when we understand that these folks ultimately believe that the State should own all bodies, and that the cults should control the State (just like Israel, or Afghanistan under the Taliban). Since the issue is whether or not to allow “freedom of choice”, and since all of the christianoid cultists are against that idea, then the proper term for these folks is “Anti-choice”.All thinking Americans will support FOCA, and urge their Congressional reps to make politically active cults pay their fair share of taxes for a change.

  • willemkraal


  • MikeL4

    This proposed law should be renamed. Then we will have truth. We should call it “The Freedom to Kill Your Unborn Child Act”. The “choice” to be made was before conception. No person has the “right” to kill a child. No nation’s constitution can give it to you. It is not theirs to give.

  • furtdw

    For John Adams who wrote at 6:00am:”Catholics by a 95% majority disagree with the churches rulings (or should that be teachings?) on birth control.”According to you, this Catholic must be firmly in the 5%. Please provide a reference for your 95% figure.You won’t because you can’t. Blowing smoke?I could go on picking apart your error filled post but why waste a Sunday morning?Immigration? Refer to “The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church.” I’m certain (???) you’ve already read it before posting! (???)Catholic? I didn’t think so.

  • wpguest1

    Par for the course, and yet one more example why the anti-religious Washington Post should rename this column:[Attack] On Faith

  • wpguest1

    “The impression that the bill was waiting for President Obama’s signature had to be officially recanted by the Pro-life Secretariat of the bishops, undercutting the urgency suggested from the pulpit. FOCA, it is now admitted, is not likely to become law any time soon.”Barack Obama before Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007: “Well, the first thing I’d do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”Set the legislative bureaucracies aside. It’s not the ability to quickly pass the law that should be of concern, it’s the intent.And the author has the nerve to whine and moan about “fear tactics,” and ask if they’re necessary. Seems to me, yes – they are.Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • usapdx


  • CCNL

    It is obvious that a president who was made president by the Immoral Majority i.e. the ~70 million voting-age “mothers and fathers” of aborted children will support and sign any kind of FOCA legislation whenever the votes are debated/taken in Congress, this week or three years from now.

  • rlalumiere

    Uh, Anthony, perhaps you should explain what the heck FOCA is. Those of us without the esoteric knowledge of this act feel a little foggy on the blog today.

  • j2hess

    “If FOCA is no threat as immediate legislation, why are the bishops marshalling so many Catholic resources throughout the nation?”I notice that the bishop’s campaign against freedom of choide (i.e., non-interference of the state in reproductive decisions unless there is a compelling public interest) began ramping up about the same time as they were increasingly dirtied by the sex abuse scandal. It may be quite unconscious – but maybe not.The separation of Church and State did not have its origin in the US Constitution; Jesus preached it. It serves the church as well as the body politic. “My kingdom is not of this world.” The more attention devoted to pursuing political power, the more the church is entangled in the temporal world. The more it will adopt the political tactics of the temporal world, including propaganda campaigns, smear attacks aimed at the political opposition, misrepresentation, exageration. The attacks on the author here for his mild dissent from the bishop’s line show how politics splits the body of Christ. I predict that if the bishops continue to pursue political victories, an admission that they have failed to transform people’s consciences (their main mission), we will see another schism in the Church.The bishops are a self-selected group. They can’t reform themselves. It took the lay church to force them to realize the error of sweeping sex abuse under the rug. It will also take the lay church to force them to reconsider the way in which they engage with public policy, law, and government. Stevens=Arroyo is trying to help his Church, if only his Church will listen.

  • chatard

    For J2Hess: There are a lot of Churches in the United States. Exactly which one is mentioned in the Constitution as being separated from the State?

  • DoTheRightThing

    First, immigration, unlike abortion is not a human life-and-death issue. Second, anyone who wants the tent (protection against government government stripping institutions of freedom of conscience) to remain standing, must never let the camel (government) even get its nose (a proposed law containing even faintly-threatening language) under the tent’s edge (voted into law).

  • j2hess

    DoTheRightThing : Precisely – such as a law limiting freedom of conscience by permitting Catholic bishops to decide for women what reproductive practices constitute the immoral taking of human life.I’m glad we see eye-to-eye!Because I am not a supporter of abortion. I do support placing limits on the power of government to intervene in the most intimate aspects of our lives.Once the government has a right to inspect and itervene in the uterus, what is to prevent the government from declaring the right to inspect and intervene in the brain?Talk about your camel’s nose in the tent!

  • chatard

    If 80% of Catholics feel this way and 90% of Episcopalians feel that way and 51% of Presbyterians feel any which way, is it up to the Federal government to bring the Popes and Bishops and Elders and Deacons in line, or, in other words, when people pray, do they pray to God to be able to do His will as expressed in the latest CBS/NYT/Washpost opinion poll? As long as we’re unshackling people from their religious leaders, let’s just unshackle them from God, er ….oh….is that really what this is all about?

  • bobbyvalenz

    You are giving too much credit to the Catholics. It is not the only Christian organization in the states. Don’t you think that fundamentalists have also something to say about FOCA? I think that they are as concerned as their fellow Christians from other religions. Why single out Catholics? Do you have a hidden agenda against this religion?

  • TerrifiedAmerican

    It never ceases to amaze me that an entire discussion such as this may unfold without even one solitary single line of the Holy Scripture being broached by even one person. Are God’s mandates and direction as preserved in His Word considered completely out of religious fashion, or of no longer any practical value in determining the path a Christian should take to please the Creator and magnify His Great Name? Were not the Christian Greek Scriptures written to benefit Christians? Oh… I’ve forgotten. The Pope, the ministers and other professional clerics are paid to tell us what the bible says, aren’t they. It save’s so much time doesn’t it? And it leaves the door wide open for a much more stimulating conversation, where we can charm and impress others with our grasp of logic, or philosophy… or at the very least; our sincere belief of self importance and indulgence.Well, if it is allowed by the page monitor… I will contribute at least one Scripture to such a lively discussion, for fear I myself may not also fall into the very accusation of which I accuse.Acts, Chapter 17:

  • PaulJB1

    As concerns John Adams’ point about Georgetown, it is run by the Jesuit order, which in terms of religious and cultural sociology is VERY different from the official Catholic Church, and in effect, is institutionally distinct.Also the polls concerning “Catholics” are quite misleading, since they include those who never or rarely go to Church. They retain a Catholic self-identification mostly for reasons of cultural tradition, whereas Protestants in their same situation would have long since abandoned it. There are large differences between Church-going and non Church-going Catholics that show up consistently in polls done by the Pew foundation, on issues like abortion and “gay-marriage.” More Church-going Catholics are accepting of artificial contraception, to be sure, but that may change in a generation or so. Older clergy either tend to dissent from Rome on the issue, or be silent, whereas younger clergy are markedly different in their point of view, at least. And the Catholic seminarians are usually “rocked-ribbed” supporters of Rome, on this issue, as all others! This makes me very optimistic for the future of the Catholic church. Creedal religions have never survived and prospered, except by zeal and faithfulness, at least in their spiritual leadership. But, of course, if unlike me, the official Catholic positions on these matters irritates you, I would predict you’ll be beside yourself with the Church in another generation!

  • theoshul

    The reason the Catholic Church is making all this noise about an imaginary problem is the same reason She does everything She does: to get Catholics to give Her more money. FOCA will become law but it will not make right-to-lifers do abortions. Nor will it nullify abortion protocol laws such as the partial-birth ban. Nor will it nullify parental notification laws. These laws do not stop anyone from choosing abortion (or non-abortion) so they’re ok under FOCA.Let’s not forget: fifty-four percent of Catholic voters voted for Obama AGAINST ALL-BUT-EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS FROM THEIR PRIESTS. Obama should not disappoint the Catholic voters–he should stand with them AGAINST their priests.Regarding Senator Casey saying FOCA is DOA, I’m not sure what he has in mind. I count a filibuster-proof pro-FOCA majority in the Senate. Fifty-six or fifty-seven Dems (depending on Minnesota) minus Casey equals 55 or 56, plus two independents Lieberman and Sanders who are both cosponsors of FOCA equals 57 or 58, plus three pro-choice Republicans (Specter and the Ladies from Maine) equals sixty or sixty-one votes. Am I missing something?

  • asdm1

    “I respect the propagandistic value of fear tactics, but are they necessary in this case?” Does this mean that you think that the end justifies the means? Propagandized fear generally means distorting the situation because, without doing this you can not make your point. I believe that you are not being moral if you hold to this. The reality of a situation (if one is allowed to make this type of statement) is never tidy. what you want to show must be teased out of it. If I can make a tangent observation,this is what Obama is able to do.

  • terryolson

    How long before we can get over this religion nonsense and come into the real world? This is getting really old. Like 2009 years old.

  • jpfannen

    Mr. Stevens-Arroyo once again avoids the real issue of FOCA. The conscience clause is NOT about the right to bear children, it is about medical personnel having to choose between assisting in an abortion or losing their jobs. It is about a hospital being forced to perform abortions or being shut down. FOCA may well be DOA this time around, but it’s been around long enough as a proposal that any inattention to the abortion industry’s fanaticism and fanatical pro-abortion legislators should not be ignored.

  • LeszX

    I am glad that Prof. Stevens-Arroyo “will participate in the letter-writing despite reservations”. Let us remember that the issue here is the murder of innocent children – so any amount of effort expended by Catholics to prevent this atrocity cannot be too much. The fundamental problem with FOCA is that it enshrines the notorious Roe v. Wade decision as federal law. Thus it would wipe out any gains – however limited – that may have been made on the state or local level to restrict abortion.I am curious about Prof. Stevens-Arroyo’s comment that the “Pro-life movement … has suffered serious body-blows in its credibility”. Perhaps the good professor has explained this thought elsewhere, but here one is left to wonder what he means. Is it that the vast majority of self-identified pro-lifers have supported a U.S. foreign policy that makes little allowance for the sanctity of life – as applied to Afghans, Iraqis, Lebanese, and Palestinians?

  • ATLMichael

    Given Obama’s landslide in the electoral college, it’s easy to forget that he won the popular vote by only about 10%. Had just an additional 5.5% of the public voted for McCain, the election would have had a different outcome.It was not without considerable support from Catholic voters that Obama was able to win the election, especially in swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. So, the political reality is that Obama cannot afford to abort his relationship with the Catholic Church in his first term (puns intended).The Catholic Church has rightfully sent a warning shot across the bow of Obama’s presidency that his support of FOCA could well cost him a possible second term. The Church has acted prudently in making absolutely clear and unambiguous its position against abortion.

  • persiflage

    It seems to me that one significant reason for the emergence of FOCA is the history of subjectively implemented and biased restrictions and loopholes (generally based on religion and religious convictions) to be found in the existing Roe v Wade legislation. In other words, FOCA is largely a reaction to religious prejudice and religious beliefs that would restrict a woman’s right to choose, and in very significant ways. For example, it’s almost impossible for poor women in Mississippi to obtain voluntary abortions – with only one Planned Parenthood organization still in existence. Federal funding should indeed be available in order to make abortions available to the poor, as with any other medical procedure. On the other hand, medical practitioners, including pharmacists, should not be forced by law to provide services that offend their personal and/or religious ethics, They should be required to offer alternative providers/resources to their patients in a timely fashion so that the desired services can be initiated as requested by the patient….no stalling or delays for referrals can be accepted based on personal ethics, provided the procedure is legal – and this delay and mis-information strategy is often practiced in the face of abortion requests, morning after pills, etc. As it stands, FOCA includes the same limits on ‘viability’ built into Roe v Wade e.g. at 24-25 weeks a fetus is considered to have sufficient lung capacity to live on it’s own. Abortions are typically not permitted by law past that point expect under extenuating medically based circumstances. FOCA does permit abortions for the health of the mother past that point, including partial birth abortions – as determined by the healthcare provider. Taking state and local government out of the abortion equation is precisely what religionists and other assorted anti-choice advocates don’t like. Frankly, it’s unlikely that FOCA will pass muster in Congress until it’s been re-written a few times – and with inevitable restrictions that are currently not present. Had religion, including the Catholic Church, stayed out of the issue, they wouldn’t be wringing their collective hands over FOCA today.

  • persiflage

    to continue -And for the RCC – to continue in it’s archaic and mindless opposition to conventional birth control methods as an official Vatican policy, only helps ensure the inexorable movement of the Church toward the margins and fringes of civil and political discourse. And true, you probably won’t find many liberal-minded seminarians among young and upcoming would-be priests of the future – any other (contrary) mindset, and they wouldn’t be in the seminary to begin with. However, and in contrast to another poster’s opinion, I would suggest that if upcoming Catholic seminarians continue to cling to the medieval philosophy of Benedict as providing their doctrinal paradigm, they too are complicit in helping guarantee the demise of the Church as a player of significance in world affairs of the future. Lest we forget, there are over 6 billion humans on the planet, with a majority currently living with abject poverty, starvation, inevitable disease, and greatly forshortened lifespans. The Pope continues to present himself as a king with a kingdom of distinctly earthly origins, not lacking in the appropriate wealth of an earthly monarch, and with legions of equally comfitted royals in attendance……Will the myth of the Catholic Church continue to thrive and survive in the face of such Papal majesty and grandeur, as it preaches heavenly (not earthly) rewards to the less fortunate masses?

  • j2hess

    As I read the bishop’s statement of all the dire implications of FOCA, it is hard to see either paranoia or meretriciousness in the way that the most extreme and least likely outcomes are presented as certainties.So let’s try to get to the core issue at stake in protecting the freedom of conscience of health care providers, both direct and indirect (e.g., clinic staff.)Healthcare professionals act as gatekeepers for access to treatment. I think there is near-universal assent that no one should be compelled to perform abortion against the dictates of their conscience. But what about providing information about abortion or alternative healthcare providers who will perform abortions?The recent Bush regulatory action declares that the gatekeepers can use their position to hinder access to information and treatment. Their freedom of conscience becomes a check on the exercise of freedom of conscience by a woman who feels compelled to consider abortion.Think of the implications – the anti-abortion crowd will have a motive to move into gatekeeper positions in order to interpose their beliefs between others’ beliefs and actions. And so society becomes less free. Social and political strife over abortion continues to generate rifts among the citizens at the cost of our ability to unite around other issues.Many in the Catholic Church and its hierarchy think we have too much freedom, and would be happy to place limits on it.The proposed FOCA act is at its heart the declaration that gatekeepers may not use their position to block a woman’s access to information or hinder her location of others who will provide treatment.If the healthcare providers can’t use their gatekeeper position to block access, people who in good conscience are opposed to abortion will move away from gatekeeper roles. They will be able to continue to exercise their freedom of conscience, but not at the expense of another’s ability to exercise their own.One hopes that, blocked from using the power of gatekeeper positions to control the action of others, these thwarted private-party social regulationists would turn to attempts to inform and guide others in the formation of their own conscience. They would act as teachers, not police.That role, as rabbis/teachers/spiritual guides, was the role that Jesus Christ modelled in his life. He rejected the power of the sword, (the power of the state) even when one of his disciples attempted to use it to thwart the arrest of Jesus. He didn’t associate with officials or pursue laws and temporal powers.But then the Emporer Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire. The prelates were seduced and corrupted by the association with temporal power, and outside of the Franciscans and a few other orders, have never cleansed themselves of this taint. When will Christians return to the example of Christ?

  • Therese81591

    To Scottchallenger:Scientifically speaking once a complete set of chromosomes are in a cell capable of division and differentiation and human life has begun. Many honest abortion supporters no longer try to hide this scientific fact. They just argue that it is ok to place less value on that life. What we really are talking about here is whether humans in the womb have fewer rights than those outside the room. The FOCA act would force medical personnel that believe that the humans in the womb do have rights and that they should not be denied the right to live, to kill another human being. Many atheists also believe that abortion is killing another human being. So this is fundamentally not a question of faith. Faith doesn’t decide if it is human being or not. Science already says it’s a human being. The question is whether it is a human being with fundamental rights. All of the tragedies of human history have been caused by one part of humanity decides another part of humanity is less deserving of right to life. Usually this injustice happens because the oppressing group wishes to preserve a false liberty or a false pursuit of happiness. The only thing that has differed throughout the years has been the discriminators used to say that one group is superior to another. These discriminators have included race, ethnic group, age,sex,idealogy, religious orientation, economic class, etc. In our own American history it was not that long ago that our constitution deemed Africans not on par with the other races. Indeed, the constitution counted them as 3/5 a man. Slavery was acceptable. So it is ironic that a president-elect who comes from a group that has been so egregiously hurt by those who considered it ok to oppress them as less than human, is himself in support of legislation that will continue to enshrine the right to kill humans based on their stage in life. And for this reason, for those who believe in the equality of all life, the inauguration will be a bittersweet day: the realization of a dream too long deferred and the continuance of the nightmare of violence against the littlest humans.Either all humans have inalienable rights to life or all of our rights are subject to change when as one group of humanity decides it can take rights away from another. One does not have to be religious to understand that every human life at every stage is valuable because solely because it is human. When we cease to believe this, we create a future of despair. May Martin Luther King’s words apply one day to those in the earliest stages of life.

  • paulc2

    From Therese81591 : ==> this is an interesting Factoid. If true, it might suggest that 87% of the counties have majorities that don’t support abortion since in the US, the majority rules. So today, if someone wants to get an abortion, they have to go to a community that supports abortion. If you are in Mississippi, there apparently is only one community in the whole state willing to support abortions. Why is it fair to force abortions on such communities? And by the way, Mississippi has less than 10% Catholics, so it is unlikely that the Catholic hierarchy is directly driving this fact. The fact is, there are many people of conscience that don’t agree with Abortion. And it is an issue of conscience. Abortion opponents point to the right to life of the Baby. Abortion supporters trumpet the right to convenience of the Mother.

  • persiflage

    Whatever shall we do with those future mothers-to-be that opt for an abortion, should the moral absolutists amongst us ever hold sway? This is a question that said moralists have not answered – should these women be held for murder or manslaughter, or something in between? Rest assured, if the right to decide is ever compromised through rule of law (which hopefully it never will be) then prepare to legislate penalities for the flood of offenses that will continue unabated. In the near term, it does not appear that this will be the case – we can surmise that SCOTA will liberalize with future appointments and move decisively toward the middle. To absolutists, even the middle looks like a movement to the left, so you can’t please everyone. It is of course true that the South is anything but Catholic, and yet it’s innately Protestant biblical fundamentalism has much in common with the views from the Vatican on certain issues e.g. abortion, homosexuality, and even birth control, in many cases. What would John Calvin and Martin Luther do?? It could be predicted with a high degree of certainty that those opposing abortion are doing so on religious grounds, whatever their faith may be.

  • CinCin1

    Wow. You can’t believe the spectacle this election provided for Canadian Catholics. Your country is going insane. I’m a pro-life Catholic but would be repulsed if our clergy ever became so partisan, manipulative and uncharitable. Expecting Christians of good will to shut up and vote Republican because they mouth the words “pro-life” (but then commit so many sins against life) is insulting. I think abortion is a tragedy and is, truly, the taking of a life but I think the Holy Spirit has departed your cause.

  • jsypal

    A couple of points here:1) Arroyo is wrong on his analysis of abortion relative to other “life” issues. The issue with abortion is that it is always and everywhere wrong – therefore it is intrinsic evil. You can kill someone in self-defense and that is morally debatable and if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you’ll find that under those circumstances, the killing of another human being is not sinful. There is NO instance where abortion is morally acceptable even when the life of the mother is potentially in danger. But this scenario is truly a red-herring because such a small percentage of abortions are because the mother’s life is in danger.2) My husband went to a meeting about FOCA last week with some prominent pro-life politcal Catholic advocacy people and their feeling is that Obama will not sign FOCA because it would galvanize too much the pro-life community (much like we’re seeing). Instead, what they will do is throw bones to Planned Parenthood and other ultra left-wing pro-abortion organizations by burying money and legal support in appropriations bill so that it’s hard for the opposition to be against it. The point is that Obama doesn’t want to alienate pro-lifers who voted for him during his first term, otherwise he will lose them in 2012. Then, once he’s re-elected he will pass FOCA to solidify abortion-on-demand and force private catholic institutions (e.g., Catholic hospitals) to perform abortions or lose tax-exempt status. It’s pretty scary. Don’t be fooled by Obama – he and his fellow democrats are out to make abortion as widespread as possible. They are NOT pro-choice. They are firmly pro-abortion.

  • persiflage

    Wow! JSYPAL would kill the mother in order to bring her motherless child into the world – a perfect example of the fanaticism that runs rampant among a certain segment of Catholics. And who shall raise that motherless child, now that the mother has been sacrificed on the altar of ultmate religious nonsense? The surviving father, I do suppose – oh well, he can always re-marry. And God knows, he will marry another faithful and devout Catholic woman who is prepared to make that ultimate sacrifice yet again, should it be necessary. The absurdity of religious extremism really flies in the face of all that is sacred!!

  • ScottChallenger

    To Theresa 81591:Do want you want with your life, I don’t care. Think what you want, do what you want, say what you want. I don’t care.But do not seek to control the lifes of others. The absolutely most corrupt and manipulative institution ever in the history of man – the Catholic Chruch – is at it again with their attempt to limited freedom of expression and thought.For centuries, the church controlled man’s thought. CENTURIES. Why do you think Europeans have had it up to their eyeballs with the church? Because this institution bent over and took a crap on the entire population of Europe for CENTURIES. Read your history Theresa 81521.That is why the church is basically irrelevant in Europe. This is one thing the Europenas have an advantage on us – we’ve not become enlightened yet. This evil instituion will continue to manipulate and apply their mind and thought control as long as their are those so weak of mind to succumb to such nonsense.Afraid to burn in hell? Afraid of not going to a place called heaven? Did you know the Mormons actually believe – and get this – that the more kids they have the higher place in heaven they will earn. How does that make you feel? Do you believe it?Why not? You seem to believe everything else this mind control institution spouts. Like it or not you, I and the Mormons will all end up in the smae place – with flesh-eating maggots having a feast on us.Don’t like that scenario? Well, bury your head in the sand even deeper then and continue to submit to the mind-control institution. Just stay out of my life, do not attempt to dictate your terms on us with free-thought, and stop trying to impose your will on others. Live your life as you see fit and I’ll do the same. Is that so hard? Why do you have the need to control not only my thoughts but also my and my wife’s actions. Please leave the rest of sane America alone. Please.

  • persiflage

    Paul C – my concern is with the reflexive defense of the ultra-conservative and dogmatic brand of Catholicism that both you and the sacrificial mother seem to defend. And I do know the intricacies of Catholic belief. The fact is, this scenario would never come to pass until the fetus reaches the stage of medical viability anyway…before that time, an infant delivered so pre-maturely would have little chance of survival under the best of circumstances. To imagine trading the life of a mother for a non-viable fetus is absurd, as you might agree. After the 25th week, an infant delivered pre-maturely would stand a much better chance of surviving on their own – and medical practitioners on hand would do everything to save both the mother and the infant via a C-section.Saving one or the other prior to the point of viability is simply not a choice. Bringing God and Jesus into the mix is also something that medical practitioners seldom do – or hopefully not. Like the separation of church and state, the separation of medical practice and religion is an excellent idea for the health of one and all.

  • paulc2

    Persiflage,Choice a) mother gives up her convenient life style so that her baby can liveChoice b) mother gives up her baby so she can keep her convenient life styleWhich of those choices is more moral and more loving? This is a choice made literally thousands of times each day. Which are you more impressed with, the mother that chooses her baby’s life over her own convenience, or the mother that chooses her own convenience over her baby’s life?

  • paulc2

    Scottchallenger:First of all the Catholic Church has no temporal power at all, so it can’t force anything on anyone. The only power it has is moral authority, which is significant solely because people beleive that the Catholic Church has the truth of God behind it. Without that, there would be no authority whatsover. In fact, the only power it has even over its own members, it the power to excommunicate them from the Church. Nothing more, nothing less.So what is it about the Church that you so resent. Is it the positions it takes? Well, on what basis do you disagree with its positions? Do you feel you have more insight to the truth than the Catholic Church? And when you want to silence the Church, aren’t you being hypocritical by wanting your opinions to be heard, but not the Church’s? Why is your moral authority to be respected, and not the Catholic Church’s, since it has the full deposit of Faith from Jesus and the Apostles and presumably, your only authority is your own?Do you take issue with the Church standing up for the unborn and the aged? If you were helpless, wouldn’t you want someone to stand up for you?

  • kengelhart

    “The only power it has is moral authority, which is significant solely because people believe that the Catholic Church has the truth of God behind it. Without that, there would be no authority whatsover.”So, since the Catholic Church is a distinct minority throughout the world and they have no authority with the rest of us, what empowers them to interfere? Wealth does. They use their ill-gotten temporal power to achieve one purpose: to retain their wealth. Today we have much better causes to support. The Catholic church is on its last legs, no more than another century and it will be gone.

  • persiflage

    Paul C – when someone makes the statement ‘under any and all circumstances’ – regardless of what it pertains to, the red flag of extremism and/or absolutism is raised, in my view. This is also a personal view that places the Absolute (the All) above all relativism, moral or otherwise – humans are in charge of their own decision-making, their own norms, their own morality and their own religious mythologies … whatever the case may be. When humans turn to religion for guidance on moral and ethical issues, they are often turning away from their own responsibility, rather than turning toward a ‘higher power’, at least in my humanist world. They are abdicating their own free will for an external, but supposedly ‘divine’ system of justice based on supernatural authority. When we view the havoc that this point of view has wreaked historically in the name of religion, it should give anyone pause. If a woman were actually in a position to sacrifice her life for the sake of a yet-to-be-born infant, she would have to find a medical practitioner that would agree with her decision – in other words, she had better make certain she’s receiving care in a Catholic hospital that follows Papal edicts to the letter…..BTW, is the decision to terminate a pregnancy ever as simple as ‘for the sake of convenience’ as you maintain? How will you ever know such a thing? You make a simple (and absolutist) assumption about a complex and highly personal issue – but that’s not surprising, if your view of the world is black and white, either/or. You’re certainly welcome to your beliefs and your own view of things – but we’ve both been here long enough to know you will find plenty of disagreement with those beliefs along the way. regards –

  • ScottChallenger

    To PaulC2:I’m not angry at the church per se; rather I’m angry with the nin-com-poops who carry their flag and want to influence or have input on how I live my life. This is America after all, isn’t it? And yes, outlawing abortion is controlling or influencing my life. More on this later.Does not anyone read or understand history of this institution? It’s as if centuries of persecution and torture never existed and these guys come riding on on their white horses saying “trust me.” And people actually but into the nonsense. Every single one of them is a crook and have only two things in mind – control of your mind and the want of your money. Take a step back and look at the right wing lunatics getting rich off their brethern all because they trumnpet a god. They write books, they do talk radio, the make listening clubs, etc., etc. But it will only cost you this…..Gee what a scam.When I was 22 my then-girlfriend stopped taking the pill without my knowledge and guess what happened? I was one year out of college, she was in college, I had a mountain of debt, I was rahter immature as most are at that age, and there was no way I was prepared to be a father or a husband. So we did the right thing and terminated the pregnancy – legally in a safe, controlled environment and not in some back street alley and a coat hanger (remember those days?). Thsi experience formed my belief that no one – NO ONE – would ever try to interfere with my life and my decisions whether they like them or not. My life would be completely different – and I’m not hardheaded enough to realize that maybe – just maybe the other avenue may have been just as good. But that’s why we have brains, to make decisions. And that’s why were free to make decisons and mistakes along the way.There is no heaven and there is no hell. We’re all going to the same place – hindus, muslims, cathlics, mormons. Like it or not. This is the freedom I enjoy as an American.

  • paulc2

    kengelhart : ==> I think you completely misunderstand Catholic wealth. Most of Catholic wealth is actually in the infrastructure to support 1.3B catholics. We’re talking about over 1M churches, plus hospitals, schools, convents, rectories, monasteries. Catholic Religious typically have vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, so they are clearly not in it for the money. Diocesean Catholic priest are paid maybe $10,000 per year plus living and health benefits in the richest diocese in the country. Many parishes have a hard time making ends meet and are in debt. Your statement that the Catholic church uses its wealth to gain more wealth is simply completely false. You should do a little more research before making such inflamatory and cynical statements.

  • paulc2

    Scottchallenger, When you say, ” Every single one of them is a crook and have only two things in mind – control of your mind and the want of your money.” It shows how little you actually know about Catholics and the Catholic Church. Have you not heard of Mother Teresa, who ministered to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta and around the world. She is only one example of the selfless lives lived by the great majority of Catholic religious and clergy. As I said, most live lives of poverty, owning no personal property at all. And they don’t want your mind or your money, they want to save your soul. This is an act of selfless love for which you are way to quick to condemn.As for your own personal experience of Abortion, I’m sure you think it was the right thing for you, but it sure wasn’t the right thing for your child. You could have gotten most of the same results by simply carrying the child to term and giving it up for Adoption. You would have had not further responsibility and your child would still have life. I know you don’t think its important, but we care more about the well being and the rights of your unborn child than you do.As for your opinion that God doesn’t exist,just because you say it with authority and conviction, doesn’t make it true. In fact, if there is no God, how do you think the universe came to exist? Do you really think it just spontaneously sprang forward with all its beauty, orderliness and consistency? Where is the scientific evidence that supports something coming from nothing, order developing spontaneously from disorder, intelligence developing without a teacher, physical laws operating without a law maker. In fact, there is no universal experience that any of that can happen with a supreme force and intelligence to start it all off.

  • paulc2

    Persiflage,Furthermore, our own personal opinions are severly limited by our own personal experiences. Honestly, only fools think they know everything. When The Catholic Church teaches morality, it is based on direct teaching from the Apostles and refined with literally millions of theologians over 2000 years. Everything has been well thought out and subject to all the questions you could ever think of. No individual can hope to compete with that.

  • Garak

    PaulC2 wrote: “The truth exists with no relativity, whether you like it or not.” And whether you like it or not, god does not exist, the bible is bunch of fairy tales, and the Catholic church does not have any special right to dictate morality, whether on abortion or pedophilia.

  • persiflage

    Paul C – I do believe in one reality. The Buddhists call it the dharma or the law, or the fundamental truth, as you prefer. However, this truth doesn’t say anything one way or the other about human behavior – it only speaks to our true nature. The rest is up to us, and that’s where the relativity and free will come in – so you can see we have completely divergant world views. Again, every thought and every rule concerning human behavior, is a human construct. Religious and legal institutions, morality and ethics, right and wrong, can all be precisely classified as highly complex social artifacts conditioned by the cultural matrix of their origin, although humans everywhere hold similar values in many areas of life – based on common experience.My personal views are more similar to Spinoza’s philosophy, or that of the Eastern mystics – as compared to St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas. Humans make their own rules, for better or worse, and divinity has absolutely nothing to do with it, except in so far as divinity is a human concept – at least in my opinion.regards –

  • paulc2

    Garak, you wrote:And whether you like it or not, god does not exist, the bible is bunch of fairy tales, and the Catholic church does not have any special right to dictate morality, whether on abortion or pedophilia. ==> Can you back up anything you say with facts? Or is this an unsubstantiated personal opinion?

  • paulc2

    persiflage : Now to your other point, yes, men have the ability to make their own rules. However, men can clearly be wrong and the Church needs to point out when we go astray. Hitler thought it was okay to exterminate the Jews for instance and that was the law of the land, even though it clearly violates the 5th commandment, “Thou shall not kill.” Likewise, we have a law that allows women to kill their own unborn children for any reason. As a violation of the same 5th commandment, the Church needs to speak up and has, much to the chagrin of those that disagree.

  • mbduggan

    Mr. Arroyo claims to be opposed to FOCA, and I truly hope so, but I wonder.The Church is not objecting to FOCA because it is a threat to Catholicism, although it may well be a threat to the freedom of Catholics to practice their religious beliefs. She is opposing it because she believes that abortion is intrinsically evil, and that the purpose of FOCA is to make abortions easier to obtain. President Obama is a strong advocate of abortion rights, and has already taken steps to make abortions easier elsewhere in the world by rescinding restrictions upon US government funding of abortions. Now that the election is over and Obama is our president it is more urgent than ever to protest against abortion, which the Church is thankfully doing. Hopefully FOCA will never make it to President Obama’s desk, and if it doesn’t, all of us who opposed to it, including Mr. Arroyo, will have the US Bishops among those to thank for their ardent and public opposition. Even more confusing is Mr. Arroyo’s understanding of what is meant by “fundamental.” The reason that the right to life is fundamental is that all other rights and freedoms, such as liberty, the pursuit of happiness, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to privacy are irrelevant if a person doesn’t first have life. The right to abortion is not fundamental, although proponents claim it is so to inflate their argument. The argument for the right to abortion is based upon other rights, such as the right to privacy and the freedom to choose that is implicit in liberty. However, even these are bound by the principle that one person’s rights can not infringe upon another’s, which brings the whole issue back to the fact that it is really, truly, and fundamentally about whether we are talking about the life of one human being or two. And the science of embryology has made it pretty clear that a unique human life begins at conception. With friends like Mr. Arroyo…….