Are pro-lifers falling into the FOCA Trap?

I received this very interesting note from a staffer of a US Congressman whom I will not identify for obvious reasons.  I have his permission to share this:

My emphases

Fr. Z:

As a Congressional staffer, I am extremely concerned that we pro-lifers are falling into what I am starting to see as the “FOCA Trap.”

If my fellow conservatives in Congress – policy makers who actually know what’s possible and what’s not – were speaking privately, I think they would admit that FOCA doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of ever even getting a committee hearing let alone being passed or signed into law. That is because it’s so radical that even most of the pro-abortion Democrats probably wouldn’t even support it.

Now, all this begs the question: why are all the bishops and most of the pro-life activists singularly focused on it?   [Good question.  Are they falling for a head feint?]

The quick answer is because Obama said at some point that he would sign it into law. Then all the activists, talk radio, the USCCB, etc. all kicked into gear and started on the offense. But is that a good thing?

As I said, anyone serious who knows the Hill knows it will never pass – including Obama. So, while the wagons are all circled around FOCA, Obama, the Democrats and the pro-abortion lobby can pick apart the incremental progress we’ve made over the years on partial-birth, overseas abortion funding, funding for abortions on military bases, embryonic stem cell research, etc. And they’ll do it while we’re all signing post cards in church about FOCA. It’s a brilliant diversion.

[“… a brilliant diversion…”]

Then, one day, Obama will come out against FOCA and say it’s too extreme. Then he’ll be heralded as a moderate, all while our progress is wiped out, and millions more babies are murdered.

Father, unless I’m very wrong, we are falling into the FOCA Trap and we must stop now, protect the gains we have made and fight like mad every time the next Mexico City fight comes instead of just saying “Oh well, we knew he’d do this.”

We need to keep our eyes on the real enemy – and that is not FOCA.

Very interesting!

Calm discussion, please, or I will toss you.

This is too important to clutter with the bone-head stuff that adds nothing of use.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Tina says:

    I’ve been saying this all along to my friends and associates. The Church has been focused on FOCA to the exclusion of all else it appears. Just this week was commenting on how the Speaker of the House is trying to get STD funding and family planing funding in the next stimulus package. has an article about a bill that is just as damaging already in committee. Yet all we hear is FOCA FOCA FOCA.

  2. David says:

    FOCA is what is on the table now.

    I’ve heard that it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance, too. But the conspirator side of me asks, is that a brilliant diversion, the real diversion… lulling us into thinking it doesn’t have a chance??

    Regardless, common sense dictates we tackle what is on the table right now. This doesn’t mean that other things aren’t being addressed, as well. In fact, the contraceptive “stimulus” was lambasted as soon as it was revealed. Focusing on FOCA isn’t going to distract us from other life issues.

  3. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    The reason why many pro-life organizations are consumed with FOCA is because it is a great fund raising tool. Many good organizations know that they have to create a crisis in a fund raising letter, and then show how they (and your donations to them) are the only things keeping this crisis in check. I personally hate this type of fundraising, but it is very effective, and many good organizations use it.

  4. Fr. Paul says:

    On July 17th of 2007 Obama spoke to Planned Parenthood (read the full text here:
    In his speech he mentioned F.O.C.A. specifically. What follows is from an exact transcript of his comments concerning F.O.C.A. and day #1 of his term as President of the USA, should he win the election:
    Barrack Obama: “Well, the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act [F.O.C.A] . That’s the first thing I’d do…”
    To be fair to Senator Obama, you would be wise to go to the link and read the complete transcript, all of the Senator’s words.
    Doctors, nurses and OTHERS will be allowed to abort babies under FOCA. OTHERS? What does this mean.
    Catholics or those who oppose abortion will have no recourse to a conscience clause, the same goes for Catholic Hospitals. Women as young as 12 will be allowed to abort their children even without Mom or Dad’s knowledge, with taxpayer money. I don’t understand how this man can say there is no urgency, given that last Friday, Jan 23, Obama rescinded the “Mexico City Policy” and now our federal tax dollars are able to begin abortions beyond our borders. Planned Parenthood International estimates that during the 8 years of the George W Bush presidency, 36 million children across the world were not aborted because the Mexico City Policy was in place. If Obama said on July 17, ’07 that FOCA would be the first thing he’d sign, can we afford to wait any longer? Fr. Paul Weinberger, Greenville, TX Diocese of Dallas

  5. DAJL says:

    It seems like FOCA should be too radical to pass. I’d like to believe FOCA is too radical to pass. I just can’t convince myself that that’s completely true. Pres. Obama has his own pressures to deal with in his party, and cannot afford to appear too moderate too quickly on this issue.

    I also think that X million postcards cannot fail to have their own “cautionary” impact in Congress. The real risk in the postcard campaign, I believe, is not that it’s the wrong target, but that the response may be ridiculously feeble.

  6. Gravitas says:

    David: FOCA is what is on the table now.

    What table is it on? I don’t see it being considered anywhere.

  7. AF says:

    Pat Buchanan has been saying that too. DAVID (above) is right. If we don’t fight FOCA -ever- it could pass and we would be told: “you never said anything”. We certainly can’t lose focus on the other pro-life issues. The enemy is clever, mean, but not stupid.

  8. I would liken the vigilance against FOCA to drawing a very clear line in the sand, that our elected representatives should dare not cross. That said, the degree of “diversion” from issues outside the narrow scope of FOCA may be a matter of conjecture.

    The alternative is not to do enough. Would anyone here prefer that?

  9. Fr. Dan Andrews says:

    I don’t think pro-lifers limit squander their capital by raiding DC with FOCA postcards. Cause a huge stink with this (even though it isn’t currently “on the table”) and it will serve as a reminder that we are still out here and can be mobilized when needed.

    One of the worst parts of the Obama win is that with executive power he can immediately change many of the “little things” to which the staffer is alluding. Most postcards can be printed and phone calls made when/if any pro-abortion bill rises up. Be loud early and then often. It’s a good thing.

  10. Todd says:


    Pro-lifers have already missed two months of speaking out against the Mexico City gag rule. But overseas abortions aren’t usually part of the fundraising effort.

    The holidays were also a great time to reach out to pregnant women in need. If we had shown the compassionate side of the pro-life movement during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we would have gotten out in front of the Obama bus on service. The PP sting was damning enough for the pro-choice movement, but taking a page out of the new president’s book on change would have been brilliant.

    I think a big, big opportunity was lost on two fronts. And for a bill that will never see the light of day.

  11. Fr. Dan Andrews says:

    Typo in my last paragraph “More postcards” not “most”.

  12. There is certainly a caution about putting all the attention on FOCA which I also think would be pretty hard to pass. Though I don\’t think Obama will ever come out against it.

    We don\’t want to miss that the Prevention First Act (PFA) which has a good change of passing under the radar. This act would advance the culture of death and put more funds in it\’s hands.

    The FOCA protest is good that it will certainly remind politicians that this is not an issue that will go away.

  13. John R says:

    This staffer is right on the money. While we must do our best to prevent certain bills from even being introduced, we must also not be fooled by the sleight of hand going on. For example, one bill that is on the table now that I have not heard much about is the “Prevention First Act” This bill would specifically calls for:

    “Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act – Requires hospitals, as a condition of receiving Federal funds, to offer and to provide, upon request, emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault.”

    And: “Preventing Teen Pregnancy Act – Amends PHSA to authorize the Secretary to award grants to public and private entities to establish or expand teenage pregnancy prevention programs.” [I’m sure Planned Parenthood would be getting the bulk of that funding]

    This has already gone to subcommittee on health in the congress and has been introduced in the Senate. So, while it is certainly laudable to find dangerous bills like FOCA, be sure to look around and see what else our “representatives” are doing behind our backs!!

  14. John R says:

    oops sorry for the confusion – it looks like there was a bit of misunderstanding on my part in my last comment. The bill was sent to subcommittee and introduced in the senate during the last congress. It has not yet been introduced by this congress. Nonetheless, don’t lose sight of other dangerous legislation.

  15. FOCA would seem to be a good place to apply Pascal’s Wager in its mathematical sense. Pascal said to live as if God exists, because if he does, the benefits are infinite, but if he doesn’t any loss is negligible. In the same way, if FOCA has any chance, or is even being somewhat discussed, then the evil it represents is so great that we must work against it. There is no real loss in this case, after all, Obama was elected even after pledging to sign FOCA.

  16. Rancher says:

    With all due respect for the Congressional staffer, I see the merits of the anti-FOCA card drive AND continued efforts to oppose ANY effort by the Obama administration to erode what progress has been made in the pro-life arena. With effort there is no reason we cannot mount a multi-facited campaign to continually remind Congress that we are a force to be considered as they vote on any and all life issues.

  17. Mary in CO says:

    Raising awareness of the implications of FOCA will also raise our alertness to methods that Congress uses to sneaking in legislation that sets the groundwork for FOCA.

    Take HR 1 (the House’s version of the “Stimulus Package”). Section 5004 would have made children of any income eligible for Medicaid funding family planning (read “abortion” and “contracetion”) — and without parental knowledge. Had this measure been kept in HR 1, we would have federal legislation that superceding state law requiring parental knowledge/consent for abortion. Sounds like only the first of many attempts to enact FOCA in steps.

  18. Mary in CO says:

    Oops — sorry for the poor spelling in my post. Just washed my hands. Can\’t do a thing with\’m. ;-)

  19. PMcGrath says:

    Simple question: How does our Congressional staffer know that “anyone serious who knows the Hill knows it will never pass”? What evidence is there?

    Given Obama’s desires on the matter, if push came to shove, wouldn’t it pass?

  20. Lourdes says:

    I, too, disagree with this congressional staffer. As someone who’s been active in the pro-life movement for many years, I haven’t seen this type of rallying around a pro-life issue in a long time (if ever). I say, keep them on their toes. Paper the Hill with postcards. Let them know we’re out there. In New York state, the legislature is poised to pass a reproductive “health” law that will mandate abortion on demand. If you don’t think Catholic hospitals will be mandated to provide abortions, just wait.

  21. Catholic Mom says:

    I’ve written two posts on this in the last week. Here and here. The modus operandi of this administration is definitely the Trojan horse.

  22. Brian says:

    Yesterday, Life Site News reported an interview with Archbishop Burke, the head of the Church’s highest court. The story can be found at:

    According the article:

    “Archbishop Raymond Burke, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, named a document on the election produced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that he said “led to confusion” among the faithful and led ultimately to massive support among Catholics for Barack Obama.

    “The US bishops’ document, ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’ stated that, under certain circumstances, a Catholic could in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion because of ‘other grave reasons,’ as long as they do not intend to support that pro-abortion position. . .

    Archbishop Burke, citing an article by a priest and ethics expert of St. Louis archdiocese, Msgr. Kevin McMahon, who analysed how the bishops’ document actually contributed to the election of Obama, called its proposal “a kind of false thinking, that says, ‘there’s the evil of taking an innocent and defenceless human life but there are other evils and they’re worthy of equal consideration.’

    “But they’re not. The economic situation, or opposition to the war in Iraq, or whatever it may be, those things don’t rise to the same level as something that is always and everywhere evil, namely the killing of innocent and defenceless human life.”

  23. Brian says:

    oops, I see that story was posted below. Sorry for the duplication.

  24. chironomo says:

    While I agree that we should beware of being “fooled” by focusing ALL of our attention on FOCA, I believe it is a worthy cause to fight for! Are we not able to walk and chew gum at the same time? I was very angry about the “executive order” that lifted the ban on federal funding for agencies outside the U.S that promote abortion. And stem cell research will be a prominent issue in the coming months. We need to be watching ALL of these issues. But FOCA is the big kahuna, whether a congressional staffer thinks it has a chance or not. (I personally agree, seems unlikely to even become a bill…)

  25. While the staffer has a valid point, I wouldn’t worry about FOCA activism somehow hurting our cause. Getting prolifers geared up and involved is a net plus. Yes, the staffer has a point, that there are other battles that really merit more attention, but FOCA is out there, its on the minds of prolifers, and it would be a mistake to tell concerned prolifers, “don’t worry!”

    Instead, we do what we are doing — pour on the heat over FOCA. Congress is not going to say, “oh, gee, they hate FOCA–but they won’t mind if we pass this thing over here!” No, they’re gonna say, #@!$% prolifers, on our backs again!

  26. Peggy says:

    We can walk and chew gum, right? We should speak out on FOCA and on the little things. I think Mexico City was much in mind last week. The contraception funding in the “stimulus” bill was found out and removed. We keep fighting the incremental changes.

    It seems also we need a state to adopt a very restrictive abortion law to have an opportunity to re-litigate RvW before the SCOTUS[SD was coming close but not quite by public vote.] It might reach a different conclusion than the ’73 court did–so long as it gets there before Obie-One appoints any one new who’s absolutely closed to defense of life. IF states have been already able to employ some restrictions lawfully, why not more. [So maybe we need more attention on electing pro-life state legislators and governors?]

  27. Peggy says:


    FOCA is all the incremental measures rolled into one, do not forget. We say we will not roll over on ANY restrictions that have been hard won at the state level.

  28. Patrick says:

    The one thing not mentioned is: are there any representatives “on the fence” regarding FOCA? This is a “wedge” issue, something with which even the most moderate of people are easily divided. I took the time after the Mass on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul to fill out the cards. After doing so, I mentioned to my wife that it was a waste of time, as our House Representative and two Senators would all vote against it, without a doubt. Then I thought of the Catholics in San Francisco that wasted their time and effort (not to mention the postage) on sending these postcards to Nancy Pelosi! Do you honestly believe she cared?

    People, I support praying the Rosary. Trying to convince politicians that are possessed by demons (who else could support murder, especially of infants?) is a waste. Our Lord never tried to convince the possessed people to “be normal”. He cast the demons out first. Our best weapons against demonic forces are Our Catholic Faith: the Rosary of Our Lady, St Michael the Archangel, and any and all the angels and saints, Our Lord, His Sacred Heart, Our Heavenly Father, and the holy Ghost.

  29. Christa says:

    One advantage of moving against FOCA is that it has awakened some priets and bishops who were very complacent. Monsigneur at our parish very plainly explaine the dangers of it passing, laying special emphasis on the fact that our two large Catholic hospitals could close. I noticed a lot of parishioners, particularly the over 55 group, really took notice.

    I also think we can pay attention to more than one issue at a time. It may be that it is being used as a diversion, but a lot of vocal opposition and mail to Congress will make them more appreciative of Catholic influence, and perhaps make them more hesitant to vote for other pro-abortion bills.

  30. Mark says:

    I don’t see how our opposition to FOCA necessarily translates into losses on the “partial-birth, overseas abortion funding, funding for abortions on military bases, embryonic stem cell research, etc” field. These still remain the core issues for the pro-life movement. Whether we gain or loose on them is independent of what happens with FOCA. It is simply added to these concerns, it doesn’t replace them. Plus, a pro-life stand on FOCA had to be made.

    Whoever this staffer is, he or she should present a more compelling logic for this proposition.

  31. Make me a Spark says:

    I have to agree with Peggy, most of all, here. We CAN walk and chew gum at the same time and we need to show the governing authorities that we are awake and well and care a lot about the innocent lives being wasted. We need to be a vocal minority who they learn to respect, we need to rally the troops and give them some victories. If we do not have to fight FOCA–let us put it down as a victory for our side and use it as a ralling cry for more activism on the individual issues!

    And yes pray! Pray the rosary, pray any way you know how and enlist all the angels and saints!

  32. Allison says:

    Yes, Jeffrey Miller!

    I have also heard that FOCA is meant to distract us so that PREVENTION FIRST can evasively sneak by while our attention is elsewhere.

    As for the Aide, I believe “him”. This administration is a finely crafted cult of personality and I wouldn’t put it past them to “wag the dog” and “create” a dramatic moment to further the illusion of Obama as a moderate.

  33. Focus on FOCA and we’ll see Universal Health Care under this bunch with the U.S. applauding them.

    But these creatures from the Culture of Death will have Jack ‘the Dripper’ Kervorkian at our bedsides.

  34. Correction:

    Focus on FOCA and we’ll see Universal Health Care under this bunch with the U.S. BISHOPS applauding them.

    But these creatures from the Culture of Death will have Jack ‘the Dripper’ Kervorkian at our bedsides taking care of us!

  35. Allena says:

    I agree that we should walk and chew our gum. As anyone wrote their senaters asking that H.R 1 NOT PASS? You can sign up for notification on many life issues at There are so many, that I find I am sending a letter every day or two…

    So, yes it could be a feint, but i’m sure they’ll pass it if they can. We have to watch every front. These guys are for everything we are against.

  36. Rusty says:

    I never did think FOCA would pass. What concerns me is once Obama comes out against it Pro-Lifers will scream victory and stop fighting with the energy that’s been shown for so long. It’s the kind of strategy I did as a Pagan against Christians fake a defeat then strike while the enemy celebrates.

    Now if we could channel this energy into ending abortion period and keep it up. We’d have a major win.

  37. Papabile says:

    Speaking as a Congressional staffer of over 10 years, not only does FOCA have a chance at a hearing, it WILL have a vote.

    This is typical. The Democrats will do the same thing the Republicans did with Partial Birth Abortion. They will have the hearings early in an election year, and depending on leadership decisions, they will have a vote in an election year sometime between July-September.

    If they choose not to do it this cycle, they will do it in the next.

    Planned Parenthood will demand it, the same way NRLC demanded it. It’s too good of a base issue and a fundraising tool.

  38. Papabile says:

    Oh…. and by the way… and before I forget…. FOCA has not a CHANCE IN HELL OF PASSING BOTH HOUSES. It’s a fundraising tool, pure and simple.

  39. FOCA provided an easy demonstration of the extremism of Obama, so we heard a lot about it in the presidential campaign. (It is also a blot on the reputation of FOCA co-sponsor Sen. Lieberman)

    I too was concerned that too much emphasis was being placed on FOCA and not its provisions and other proposals which may be included in other legislation.

    However, before the latest Congressional session opened, these other proposals were not obviously on the agenda. Therefore interest likely concentrated upon FOCA by necessity.

    More attention could have been focused on the Mexico City Policy, which was an obvious threat. While its reversal would have been ordered regardless of the opposition, more probably could have been done to argue against it.

    A Republican letter recently used the term “the FOCA Agenda,” which I think nicely captures both the FOCA problems and the wider issues FOCA represents.

  40. EDG says:

    I think the focus on FOCA has actually been a good thing and has galvanized some of the bishops, or perhaps made them take the whole issue more seriously and also reminded them that they have a responsibility to be aware of these things. Perhaps it will also give them a chance for some teaching. I read that only 38% of white non-Hispanic Catholics voted for Obama, while the number was 80% for Hispanics (who are a big Planned Parenthood target, ironically) and 93% for black Catholics, indicating that there are at least two groups that need significant pro-life education. And the postcard campaign does show that American Catholics are watching these issues.

    I don’t think FOCA has any chance of passing, although Papabile could be right: they will just wait till the shouting has died down and pass it then. In any case, I agree that Obama will simply find some other route to achieve these goals. He’ll go for a piecemeal approach that will slip provisions into other bills or generally stay below the radar. So we have to stay vigilant. But this gave us a little organizing experience, and that certainly couldn’t hurt.

  41. Houghton G. says:

    Fr. Martin Fox pointed this out the day after the election either here or on Amy Welborn’s blog (I can’t remember which) and changed my mind about it. I think the congressional staffer is completely right about this and I’ve been telling my friends that for some time.

    The real threat is in the funding of Planned Parenthood, the likely frontal assault against free speech (FCC and the “fairness doctrine” which may be applied against the Internet in some form), the increasingly violent attacks by gay activists against traditional marriage, the accentuation of merciless bureaucrats enforcing executive branch power against conservatives and so forth.

    Indeed, the real danger is the way information gets disseminated. Our worst enemy is the sycophantic press. We somehow have to get our message out despite their crushing propaganda. For instance, the recent headline reports about startling reversal of Multiple Sclerosis using “stem cells” disguised the fact that bone marrow stem cells were used. The casual consumer of information will hear this as “embryonic stem cells” and see it as proof that the benighted pro-lifers are anti-progress, when it ought to have dealt a death blow to the embryonic stem cell advocates.

  42. Scott W. says:

    We are not called to be effective, but faithful. While I appreciate the warning of plans with in plans, it puts too much stock in winning with leet skilz instead of sacrifice, prayer, encourgement, good example, and plain ol’ divine aid. FOCA may very be 100% bluff. So might be a friend’s declaration to commit suicide. You can’t ignore it because you don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in Hell of pulling it off.

  43. Scott W. says:

    I suppose I should add before someone has kittens: I’m not saying we should chuck ALL strategy into the garbage. Naturally it is worthwhile discuss where to best put our time, efforts and resources, and maybe something other than FOCA is where it should go, but let’s keep our heads clear. So Obama strikes down FOCA and is hailed as the Great Moderate. So what? That’s PR–a battle we are always gonna lose at the macro level.

  44. Ray from MN says:

    Shouldn’t we be counter-attacking?

    The removal of restrictions on foreign aid for abortion services is not going to be going to Europeans. It will be going to Hispanic, Asian and African countries with huge poverty issues.

    Their governments will gladly receive and dispense the new source of abortion funding to eliminate some of their perceived poverty problems.

    This is eugenics, through and through, coming from the man who likes to think of himself as African-American.

    Most people don’t know what eugenics is. But when the president is regularly being labeled as a sponsor of funding for the reducing of minority populations around the world through the use of abortion to make the world safe for “white people” like him, he will get the message.

  45. Ed Mechmann says:

    I work in the Archdiocese of NY pro-life office, and I have to say that I agree with this in general. I think the imminent threat of FOCA was oversold, and the danger of the incremental attacks (e.g, the Hyde Amendment, conscience protection) is much greater (By the way, USCCB has recognized this in the wording of their postcards and advocacy materials). This has hurt us here in New York in particular because our state version of FOCA (called RHAPP) is a much more serious threat, and many of our pro-lifers are distracted by the emphasis on FOCA, as if that’s the only fight.

    At the same time, I believe that it is important to hit these radical proposals early and hard, tagging them as being clearly too extreme, peeling off some of the “moderate” legislators, and defining the terms of the debate. We did that pretty successfully last year in NY with RHAPP, and we need to do it with FOCA as well. Of course, our NY congressional delegation is almost completely hopeless (only 2 pro-lifers and 29 strongly pro-abortion reps), so that affects our strategic thinking as well.

    FOCA is not an empty threat — if it passes, all pro-life gains will be erased. But it’s not as imminent a threat as some people have been led to believe.

  46. Thomas says:

    What, we can’t fill out post cards against FOCA and still watch for erosion of our gains? Doesn’t seem too hard to me.

  47. mike says:

    A thought –

    I always wondered how the average German could go about his business back in the day when his jew neighbors were being rounded up and killed. But the same holocaust occurs today and like the Germans I go about my daily business and I’m ashamed to say I don’t pray for these victims on a daily basis.


  48. David in WA says:

    I know that much of the spoken word from the bishops has focused on FOCA, but I’ve seen messages from Richard Doerflinger, USCCB pro-life secretariat, cautioning against over-dramatizing FOCA. Also the wording on the postcards is “oppose FOCA or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.” (with everything after “FOCA” in emphasis). So I think they really are trying to cover all the bases, but are just using the biggest threat to lead with.

  49. Corita says:

    While FOCA might not pass, the same issues it involves will be, and are being, raised currently around the country. While it might be “too much” at once to pass, there are certainly many subissues that it contains that might go over soon.

    One primary concern for me is the issue of the conscience clause. Although
    religious antidiscrimination laws exist, and even though Bush signed and supported the DHS law just before he left office, I believe that we are seeing a cultural war on this kind of freedom of religion. The Baltimore Sun recently published an opinion piece by doctors that, typically, obfuscated the real issue and presented these as laws that serve to protect a janitor who objects to premarital sex from repurcussions of preventing a woman from entering a doctor’s office.
    This is the kind of story-telling that is rampant, and is taking hold in some circles; I believe that it will only spread.

    Think how the prochoice campaign against CPC’s has taken enough hold in popular culture that a significant number of college students now might say, “aren’t they manipulative weirdos aout to fool women into having babies?”

    So, my point is, that the elements of FOCA are going to be pushed individually, IT is already happening.

  50. pomofo says:

    FOCA hasn’t been introduced yet in the 111th Congress. If I were handling abortion issues (which I don’t), I would find receiving anti-FOCA postcards as humorous as the letters I get from people asking my boss to cosponsor or support bills that he himself has introduced. At least wait until the bill is introduced, no need to expend so much energy too early and run out of steam after the Democrats wait you out.

    The Prevention First Act has been introduced this Congress, HR 463 in the House sponsored by Rep. Slaughter, S 21 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Reid.

  51. For all those who are so certain that FOCA has no chance ever: do you think that’s what was said on state levels about abortion? Or euthanasia? Partial-birth abortion?

    While we can’t allow ourselves to develop tunnel-vision on FOCA, we certainly would be ill-advised to completely ignore it.

  52. memoriadei says:

    Dear Father et al, I don’t think we over reacted. It may well be the noise we are making re FOCA that is causing the Hill to understand our strong feelings against FOCA. The evil twin of this that we also need to look at is Prevention First Act. But it’s not getting as much publicity…and it should. FOCA will not pass but they will parcel it out attached to other bills. This is where we need to be extremely diligent. And, thank God our bishops are speaking up. Just when they really do, I will be the last one to say that they went overboard. NO way. Keep a diligent eye for the parceling out of FOCA and the Prevention First Act. God bless all who have spoken up !

  53. Magdalene says:

    At least it has brought about some coalescing in the pro-life movement with folks signing these cards at Mass and may h ave also voted for pro-abortion politicians.

    I think that these areas of concern will be foisted on us piecemeal and snuck onto other bills. None of this is a dead letter by any means. We have elected the most blood-thirsty administration ever and the attacks on life from beginning to end will continue.

    And if you do not like it, and protest about it: there might be a nice FEMA camp for you one day…

  54. Tricia says:

    From, just today (re: Mexico City Policy reversal):

    This week an amendment to reinstate the Pro-Life Mexico City Policy, introduced by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida, was defeated in the Senate.

    Despite these bitter defeats, hope still remains to keep the Mexico City Policy as the law of our land.
    Thanks to great Cngressmen, like Chris Smith (R-NJ) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) we have the chance to pass a Mexico City Policy bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    The Mexico City Policy, which President Bush enacted on his first day in office, was originally established by President Reagan to keep your taxdollars from overseas abortion providers.

    Go to and tell your Representative that you don’t want your tax dollars going to abortion providers in other countries.

  55. Joseph says:

    I would like to believe that FOCA has no chance at passing, but let’s consider the vote in the Senate (mentioned in the comment above) to reinstate the Mexico City policy. It didn’t just fail — it failed 60 – 37, and Kennedy did not vote (or it would have been 61). You can see the roll call vote here. Only one Democrat voted for the Mexico City policy — Ben Nelson. However, I counted four Republicans who voted against it (Collins, Snowe, Specter, and, surprisingly, Murkowski). The Senate, at least, is not currently friendly territory for prolif concerns.

    FOCA did not make it to a vote when Clinton was in office, but the Democrats in change now are far more radical than those fifteen years ago. They might go for it. They are emboldened.

    PS) It is amusing that, as an Orthodox Christian, my anti-spam captcha for this comment was “ad orientem.” Coincidence or divine amusement???

  56. Joel L says:

    While I understand the point of the staffer, I think it needs to be acknowledged that “fighting like mad” is not really a solution in and of itself. In other words he has stated something I think most of truly see and pray is obvious, that FOCA is beyond sanity and reason and that just minds could never really consider such squalidness as a resolution worthy of debate. What I would like to see form the staffer or “insider” if you will is what he thinks we ought to do. In other words, yes we would love to fight like mad but what does he think would be the most effective avenue or course of action?

    It appears to me that while the postcard salvo is directed at FOCA, it is a new attack (or defense depending on perspective) in the battle that sends a message. Our Bishops have started a campaign that tells our legislators, we are here, we will not be silent, and the issues of life are non-negotiable.

    The Catholic Church in the US is a big ship. It is at times difficult to get a large ship to move quickly in any direction, let alone to get everyone on board shooting on command and aiming at the same target. With FOCA as the target we have done that. The challenge we face is to keep that momentum going and to fight the smaller battles as they arise.
    It could be a long four years.

  57. FOCA may be barely alive on life-support but what is wrong in making sure it dies once and for all? FOCA may be the worst case scenario, but that is what our complacent congregations NEED to fear. The subtle incremental progress can be undone with one fell swoop UNLESS we are vigilant. I don’t see it as a waste of time or effort to rally the troops and mail postcards when it may be the first time for many to do so. When another immanent threat arises, we strike A.S.A.P. I don’t see how fighting FOCA is going to preoccupy the pro-life movement so that Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden can sneak other stuff under our noses. Remote as it may be, FOCA was the first time most of our bishops were on the same page (and on the right side)

  58. Michael says:

    FOCA already passed once…in the House…at a time when there ostensibly were more pro-life friends in Congress. I don’t follow the logic that FOCA cannot pass again — this time in both chambers — when there are now fewer members who care about life.

  59. ssoldie says:

    The ‘Prevention First Act’, will appear before the F.O.C.A.,watch for it, be vigilent. Write your reps and tell them under no circumstances do you want this to pass NO on P.F.A.

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