Just as the reproductive health debate is heating up in the Philippines, the life vs. choice tussle in the U.S. is heating up as well. Pro-life parties are hitting the proposal of a new law called the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA):
The possible signing of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) by President-Elect Barack Obama would be “the equivalent of a war” an unnamed senior Vatican official recently told TIME magazine.
The startling comments make the second time this week that a Vatican official has forthrightly and in the strongest language condemned Obama’s extreme policies on abortion. Speaking at the Catholic University of America a few days ago, Vatican Cardinal James Stafford labeled Obama’s anti-life policies as “aggressive, disruptive, and apocalyptic,” also noting that, “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake” (see coverage: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/nov/08111703.html ).
Read the rest of the article here.
Although the article doesn’t add anything new to the choice vs. life debate, it does begin to wave threatening and suggestive language (e.g. “war”) and new unwarranted assertions (e.g. pro-life and Catholic health care workers are going to lose their jobs, etc.) to support its case:
“To put it differently, were FOCA to become law (it needs to be reintroduced in the House), the culture war that the Vatican official was referring to would come to a boiling point,” he warned. “In practical terms, this would mean the closure of every Catholic hospital in the nation: No bishop is going to stand by and allow the federal government to dictate what medical procedures must be performed in Catholic hospitals. Make no mistake about it, the bishops would shut down Catholic hospitals before acquiescing in the intentional killing of an innocent child. Were this to happen, it would not only cripple the poor, it would cripple the Obama administration.”
As I’ve mentioned in prior discussions, the tricky thing about arguing against concepts that notably religious groups love to bring up (e.g. “conscience”) is that the debates will always be fraught with context.
As Dr. Tim Keller mentioned in his wonderful talk we featured recently, there is always a challenge for those who subscribe to an absolute worldview to reconcile their exclusive beliefs in a democratic society that allows for freedom of belief. This gets stickier especially when you begin to propose and enact laws and constraints that will not be accomodative to all points of view. One reason why Church and state is separate–but in practice perhaps not so:
The focus of the Vatican’s concern, FOCA, is a bill that would do away with state laws on abortion, including laws mandating parental involvement, or banning partial birth abortion. FOCA would also compel taxpayer funding of abortions, and, of greatest concern to Bishops, would force faith-based hospitals and healthcare facilities to perform abortions.
Just like the reproductive health debate, it is the coercive nature of laws that become a primary sticking point. Laws are by definition: one-sided. The blurry line is the decision of which side laws should be drawn on.