Fuss about FOCA
Time magazine has an interesting story about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recent campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Prolife advocates have whipped up a frenzy about the law, which, according to some, would eliminate state restrictions on abortion; their efforts have included email campaigns filled with dire consequences, including all Catholic hospitals shutting down and women being "forced" to have abortions. At the same time, almost all commentators note that it is highly unlikely that the bill will even be introduced in the current Congress, where it lacks support even of congressional Democrats. Even Nancy Pelosi has said she would not allow the law to come up for a vote (which is smart, as it would be political suicide for all kinds of reasons).
Notre Dame legal scholar and all-around smart person Cathleen Kaveny has written an excellent analysis of the FOCA controversy for Commonweal; it's long, but well worth the read if you want to make an informed opinion, and it cuts through a lot of the activist and media blather. In the end Kaveny shares my view that all the energy going into blanketing Congress with anti-FOCA postcards should be redirected to more productive work on behalf of pregnant women. (Read my January column on the issue here.)
It's too bad the U.S. bishops have chosen confrontation rather than conversation and cooperation with the new administration, a plan they signalled almost immediately after Obama's election. Although Catholics obviously can't sign on to a prochoice agenda, we can certainly work with anyone to reduce abortion, and as the TIme piece points out, the new president has made reducing abortions a high priority for his faith-based initiatives programs.