Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
January 4, 2009

   Archbishop Nienstedt has asked the Archdiocese's faithful Catholics to join him in petitioning Minnesota's Congressional delegation to oppose the bill that Barak Obama, acting as Senator from Illinois, has co-sponsored under the title "The Freedom of Choice Act" or FOCA. This is a bill that, if passed by Congress with subsequent signing by President Obama, will strip away all restrictions on abortion currently in force and will abolish the freedom of conscience laws which permit obstetricians, other medical personnel and hospital boards to refuse, as conscientious objectors, to participate in, or to make referrals for, abortion. Under the dictate of FOCA all existing laws requiring parental consent or at least parental notification before the performing of abortions on adolescents will be struck down, as will all state laws requiring counseling or waiting periods. Abortion on demand, including the abominable procedure known as partial-birth abortion, will become the law of the land under FOCA. Thus the time to convey to our Congressional delegation our convictions on this matter is NOW!
   To facilitate our doing so the Archbishop will soon be sending to the various parishes postcards with a printed message expressing our principled opposition to FOCA. Further details will be supplied in next week's bulletin. Please stay tuned. And I hope that all of our parishioners will cooperate. Now is the time to stand up and to be counted in the defense of unborn children's right to life, the fundamental and most sacred right of all.
   A famous local champion of the right to life, Mary Ann Kuharski, a veteran campaigner over the course of many years, wrote the following "call to arms" in the December, 2008 issue of The Catholic Servant (not, please note, The Catholic Spirit). I reprint her report here.
   Copies of The Catholic Servant are available each month, free of charge, on the tables at the back of the church.
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Freedom and Conscience May Be a 'Thing of the Past' after New Year's Day.
    By: Mary Ann Kuharski
   From: The Catholic Servant
   Date: December, 2008

   Recently I received a rather desperate call from a practicing physician concerned about proposed legislation and what it will mean to her practice.
   Both she and her husband are OB-GYN specialists in a state that has had a "conscience clause" on its books for over 30 years, allowing them the freedom to refuse to advocate or participate in the act of abortion as a matter of conscience.
   "What can we do to let people know?" my physician friend asked. "If this bill passes, my husband and I may be forced to leave our practice in order not to violate our own conscience."
   Her concern was over a legislative proposal that would have a radical effect on physicians and on medical practice as well as on a host of other things- including parent-child rights.
   During the lengthy election season-didn't you feel it would never end?-little was said or written about this legislative proposal, what it would do, and which of the candidates were supporting it.
   Personally, I am convinced that most Americans- including voting Catholics-were unaware of this bill, and who was behind it. If they had known, the election outcome might have been different-but that's water under the bridge!
   The proposed bill is named the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), and is anything but. Quite the contrary, it would mean the end of  "freedom" for physicians and others in the medical field. It will also impact Catholic institutions, parents of minor children, and, tax-paying citizens who will be forced to pay for abortions.
   Unfortunately, our new President-elect, Barack Obama, was a co-sponsor along with a host of other congressmen and senators. He is on record as having pledged to Planned Parenthood, when speaking at their meeting, that if he became president he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law.
   As the largest provider of contraceptives and abortion in America, Planned Parenthood has the most  to gain by passage of this radical measure. It is up to us to try to change his mind.
   Here is what the proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) will mean:
 •  FOCA creates a "fundamental right" to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. No governmental body at any level would be able to deny or "interfere with a woman's right to choose" or to "discriminate" against the exercise of the "right" in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information."
 •   FOCA would give pro-choice activists legal grounds to challenge every restriction that any of the 50 states have put in place over the past three decades ... since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand. 
 •  Under FOCA, abortion for the first time would be considered an entitlement the government must condone and promote-a radical departure from the concept that children are a blessing and America's greatest resource!
 •  Individual states would have no right to "interfere" under FOCA, and any state which attempts to pass laws restricting abortion or its practice would be in violation of this federally mandated measure.
    Many states, since passage of the January 22, 1973, Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade decision, have passed laws regulating abortion in an effort to safeguard pregnant mothers and unborn babies. Under FOCA all such restrictions would be wiped out-including laws mandating parental notification, waiting periods and/or counseling before an abortion; and even the gruesome barbaric practice of partial birth abortion would be once again permissible.
 •  Parental consent: Under FOCA if your minor became pregnant, you would have no legal right to even be notified (much less give your consent) before she is subjected to an abortion-which could forever change her-physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
   How many of us have been called by school nurses to give consent for our child to take prescription medicine or even an aspirin? Or have signed permission for our child to attend school functions or field trips?
   Think of it. Your child cannot go on a field trip without your written permission, yet under FOCA she can be taken to an abortion facility and undergo a surgical procedure without your knowledge or consent.
   This act is designed to drive a wedge between the parent-child relationship, once regarded by lawmakers and citizens as a sacred trust.
   Undergoing any surgery is a serious thing. Prescription medications also can be serious and even life-threatening. Women have died from so-called "safe" abortion. With passage of this proposal, parental involvement would be left to the discretion of the minor child. Thus, even pertinent medical history and possible complications that only the parent knows, may be ignored.
 •  Informed consent: Some states have passed laws requiring waiting periods and "informed consent" before an abortion, in order to insure that the pregnant mother is properly notified and has time to consider just what the abortion will do to her as well as her unborn baby.
   Under FOCA all such restrictions would be null and void. A vulnerable pregnant woman, including a minor child, would not be told of the development of the baby she is carrying or what possible complications may occur as a result of the abortion.
   Radical indeed. Have you ever had surgery or taken a new drug and not been told by your physician of the complications that could result? Under FOCA, pregnant mothers need not be informed-in fact, it could be considered "harassment"!
 •  "Conscience-protection" laws would end. Such laws-some of which have been in place for over 30 years in many states, have allowed Catholic and other pro-life hospitals, doctors, medical students, and healthcare workers to opt out of participating in abortion. It was respected as a "matter of conscience." Not if FOCA is passed, which as my physician friend fears, would have a devastating effect on Catholic health care workers and institutions.
 •  Under FOCA, all state-mandated health regulations requiring proper safety standards for abortion "clinics" and facilities would be null and void. This proposal is so radical it even does away with laws requiring that abortions be performed only by a licensed physician.
   Knowing that some abortion clinics have been shut down for unsanitary or health violations, it hardly seems in the best interest of the woman that such a mandate be allowed, .
 •  Partial-birth (late term) abortion: Under FOCA, any laws that prohibit a particular abortion procedure, such as partial-birth abortion, will no longer be in force.
   Certainly, all abortion is brutal and barbaric-as every abortion destroys an unborn child. The late-term procedures appear the most grotesque and cruel.
   In fact, Congress previously passed a law outlawing partial birth, late-term abortion after descriptions verified that the nearly full-term child was routinely delivered feet-first and then stabbed in the head with a scissors and a suction catheter inserted to suck out the child's brains, causing the skull to collapse, after which the remainder of the dead baby is delivered.
 •   FOCA would disallow "government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth and other health care without subsidizing abortion." This is the most far-reaching and dangerous proposal in that it could muzzle Catholic institutions and pro-life pregnancy center providers.
   To date, 71 members of the House and 14 members of the Senate have endorsed this or similar versions of the bill-including our newly-elected president.
   The American bishops have urged all Catholics and good citizens to write and call their congressmen and senators in opposition to the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). If you've never written to your congressman, senator or the new president before-now is the time. God's helpless babies and America's future are at stake!

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  Mary Ann Kuharski, is a homemaker and mother of 13 (ages 17-37), six of whom came by adoption and are of mixed races, some with special needs.  She is author of Raising Catholic Children and Parenting With Prayer (OSV Press), and Building a Legacy of Love (Faith Publishing).