Reducing Abortions by Promoting Abortion?

by Tom Grenchik

September 5, 2008

As one could have predicted, the tragic and divisive issue of abortion has moved front and center into election politics.  While there has been some political recognition that the vast number of abortions in our country needs to be reduced, some rather frightening ideas have emerged.  One radical federal plan, which has the support of some very influential senators and congressional leaders who say that they want to reduce abortions, would actually promote abortions.  No, that's not a typo.  Reduce abortions by promoting abortions.

If someone recommended fighting crime by subsidizing criminals, or cleaning the environment by eliminating anti-pollution regulations, or improving airline safety by making metal detectors optional, we would have good reason to be skeptical.  We'd have to ask: "Where's the common sense in such proposals?"  For an example of an actual federal bill that contradicts common sense, one need look no further than the "Freedom of Choice Act," also known as "FOCA."  Defying all logic is the least of FOCA's problems.  The bill is alarming for many reasons.

If enacted early in the new Congress, as projected by its co-sponsors and their allies, FOCA would force all taxpayers to fund abortions.  FOCA would eliminate state regulations that attempt to protect women from unsafe abortion clinics.  It would require all states to allow late-term abortions for any reason.  Even partial-birth abortions would be legal.  Wherever states have passed laws restricting such barbaric abortions, those laws would be nullified under FOCA.  Women in all states could be subjected to abortions performed by non-physicians or unlicensed physicians.  FOCA would undermine protections for the conscience rights of nurses, doctors and hospitals that object to participating in abortions.  And FOCA would strip parents of their right to be involved in their minor daughter's abortion decision.  

Funding abortion, radically de-regulating abortion, and crushing any conscientious objection to abortion; all this amounts to wholesale promotion of abortion.  This is hardly a common sense way to reduce the number of abortions.  As hard as it may be to fathom, FOCA is even more extreme than the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that gave us abortion virtually on demand 35 years ago.  

And while such an outrageous plan sounds implausible, the danger is a real.  FOCA is a serious threat to the lives and well-being of millions of women and their unborn children and to the conscience rights of all pro-life healthcare professionals.  Ask your representatives and candidates where they stand on the "Freedom of Choice Act."  If they really think that they can reduce abortions by promoting abortions, ask them to think again.  Too many lives are at stake.

Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Go to to learn more about the bishops' pro-life activities.  

Go to to view and download the Secretariat's new advertisement urging Congress to pledge their opposition to FOCA.