Dear Congress: Protect Laws that Protect Life

By Deirdre A. McQuade

January 16, 2009

Shortly after the November 2008 election, dozens of pro-abortion groups wasted no time in submitting a comprehensive 55-page agenda to President-elect Obama's transition team. It proposes passage of the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA), public funding of abortions, and the abandonment of longstanding pro-life provisions in appropriations bills. If the abortion industry succeeds, government will soon promote abortion as never before, making it a "fundamental" right and a government entitlement.

Abortion advocates are newly energized because Congress has the most pro-abortion members since 1993, and because our new President has said he would sign FOCA into law.

But it has to reach his desk first. The goal of pro-life Americans is to ensure that FOCA and other anti-life measures never get that far. This will take prayer, education, vigilance, and advocacy on a massive scale, elements of what John Paul II called a "great campaign in support of life."

Catholics and other pro-life advocates are not alone in opposing the radical abortion agenda. A survey conducted by one of the nation's top pollsters in December shows widespread support for common-sense laws limiting or regulating abortion. Some laws of this kind are now at risk from sweeping measures like FOCA, and from piecemeal efforts to reverse them one at a time.

The 2,341 U.S. adults polled were presented with six kinds of laws, and asked to voice their position from "strongly support" to "strongly oppose." The results are remarkable. Excluding those who declined to answer or took a neutral position:

  • 95% favor laws ensuring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians
  • 88% favor informed consent laws (i.e., requiring abortion providers to inform women about potential risks to their physical and psychological health and about alternatives to abortion)
  • 76% favor laws that protect doctors and nurses from being forced to perform or refer for abortions against their will
  • 73% favor laws that require giving parents the chance to be involved in their minor daughter's abortion decision
  • 68% favor laws against partial-birth abortion (i.e., aborting a child already partially delivered from the mother)
  • 63% favor laws preventing the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.

This survey indicates how incredibly out of touch pro-abortion groups are with mainstream America. Support for these six measures cuts across "pro-life" and "pro-choice" segments of the population. Only a small minority (9%) said abortion should be legal for any reason throughout pregnancy (the actual state of U.S. abortion law under Roe v. Wade). But more than a third of even that most "pro-choice" cohort supports three or more of the six abortion laws considered. Clearly, the radical pro-abortion agenda won't sell to the general public.

For moral and political reasons, Congress should not further endanger defenseless unborn children and their families by removing existing legal protections or by passing legislation like FOCA. We need to send a clear message to Congress: Oppose all legislative threats to human life, however they arise, and maintain current pro-life policies.

For more information on sending this message to Congress, visit: or contact your diocesan Respect Life office.

Deirdre A. McQuade is Assistant Director for Policy & Communications at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.