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In the wake of Barack Obama’s election victory, the pro-life movement seemed thoroughly disorganized, if not dispirited–until salvation arrived in the form of the Freedom of Choice Act, a.k.a. FOCA–a bill that would coerce Catholics into performing abortions, force the shut down of the entire Catholic health care system, and generally prove that all of the terrible things they’d said about Obama and anyone who voted for him were indisputably true. FOCA was perfect–a simple, black-and-white, good-and-evil choice that would rally the pro-life movement and put off the need for any soul-searching about their mission or tactics or effectiveness. “Better than Roe,” could have been the slogan. Those who suggested–as I foolishly did here–that FOCA might not be, pardon the term, viable, were cast into outer darkness.
Well, now even some bishops seem to be following the path to perdition, as this CNS story shows:
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Internet rumors to the contrary, no Catholic hospital in the United States is in danger of closing because of the Freedom of Choice Act.
As a matter of fact, the Freedom of Choice Act died with the 110th Congress and, a week after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, has not been reintroduced.
But that hasn’t kept misleading e-mails from flying around the Internet, warning of the dire consequences if Obama signs FOCA into law and promoting a “FOCA novena” in the days leading up to Inauguration Day.
The Catholic Health Association “is strongly committed to opposing FOCA and (the board) is unanimous that we would do all we could to oppose it,” said Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., an elected member of the CHA board of trustees since June 2006.
“But there is no plan to shut down any hospital if it passes,” he added in a Jan. 26 telephone interview. “There’s no sense of ominous danger threatening health care institutions.”
Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, was equally sure that FOCA poses no threat to Catholic hospitals or to the conscience rights of those who work there.
“I don’t believe that FOCA will pass, although we will continue to monitor all proposed regulations for their potential to help people in this country and for any negative assault on the life issues,” she said.
As introduced in previous congresses, the legislation “has never contained anything that would force Catholic hospitals or Catholic personnel to do abortions or to participate in them,” she added.
So what is, to use an unpopular reference, Plan B?