Some Catholic officials are discussing what to do if the new regime passes the Freedom of Choice Act, which would define abortion as a federally-enforceable right and throw out all legal restrictions against the butchery. The options: close or commit civil disobedience:
A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.
The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.
A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation “is among the congressman’s priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later.”
FOCA, as the bill is known, would make federal law out of the abortion protections established in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling.
The legislation has some Roman Catholic bishops threatening to shutter the country’s 624 Catholic hospitals — including 11 in the Archdiocese of St. Louis — rather than comply.
Speaking in Baltimore in November at the bishops’ fall meeting, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a Chicago auxiliary bishop, took up the issue of what to do with Catholic hospitals if FOCA became law. “It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions,” he said. “That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.”
But even within the Catholic community, there is disagreement about the effects FOCA might have on hospitals, with some health care professionals and bishops saying a strategy of ignoring the law, if it passes, would be more effective than closing hospitals. . . .
In its last incarnation, FOCA defined abortion as a “fundamental right” that no government can “deny” or “interfere with.” That language, FOCA’s opponents warn, would help overturn abortion restrictions such as parental notification, laws banning certain procedures and constraints on federal funding. . . .
According to the CHA, Catholic hospitals make up 13 percent of the country’s nearly 5,000 hospitals, and employ more than 600,000 people. CHA says one of every six Americans hospitalized in the United States is cared for in a Catholic hospital.
Not all bishops or Catholic health care professionals see closing down hospitals as a realistic option. Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., a member of CHA’s board of trustees, wrote on his blog last month that “even in the worst-case scenario, Catholic hospitals will not close. We will not comply, but we will not close.” Instead, he advocated a strategy of “civil disobedience.”