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Freedom of Choice Act is not where the nation is 'at.' (Column)

There are two defining questions before the American public: What kind of people are we? What kind of nation shall we be?

No issue brings those questions into sharper focus than the issue of legal protection for unborn children.

And nothing forces us to answer the question of how we will treat the next generation more definitively than the pending so-called Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA is a chilling piece of legislation. It has no parallel in any other developed country.

FOCA would legislatively mandate, in all 50 states, not only abortion on demand, for any reason, throughout all nine months of pregnancy, it also could forbid parental-consent regulations for teenagers seeking an abortion.

FOCA would, in other words, legislatively declare abortion to be an absolute right unlike any other in our nation's history. In a country governed by a law like FOCA, abortion would, officially, have less moral consequence than a tonsillectomy.

That is not the kind of people we are. That is not the kind of nation we want to be. But that is what FOCA supporters in Congress are pledged to require of us: consent to the most permissive abortion regime in modern history. They have vowed to pass FOCA. The president then will be faced with the prospect of vetoing this horrific legislation or signing it into law.

Americans who care about the kind of people we are must be committed to a different vision of America. We believe in an America that continues to cherish children and families. We believe in a hospitable society, one that opens its arms to welcome new life. We believe in a compassionate society in which the government, the churches, women's organizations and our great network of voluntary agencies work together to help care for women caught in the dilemma of an unwanted pregnancy. We believe in an America that chooses to eliminate human problems, not human beings.

We believe that freedom is not simply doing what you want; we believe that freedom is having the right to do what you ought.

Rights and laws are important. But people who think instinctively in terms of rights and laws rather than in terms of rights and wrongs have given us FOCA, a genuinely radical legislative proposal that is utterly out of step with the beliefs of the American people.

The people do not support abortion on demand. The American people do not consider abortion a matter of birth control. But the proponents of FOCA do. They will tell you that they are not pro-abortion, rather pro-choice. That's a distinction without any political or legal difference. Nothing demonstrates that better than their commitment to this bill, which is designed to engrave in federal legislation abortion on demand, at any state of pregnancy, for any reason and eventually, they hope, funded by your tax dollars.

That is why those of us committed to the dignity of women and the defense of human life must reject FOCA and reject the agenda of those who have made enactment of this terrible legislation the centerpiece of their domestic social policy.
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Author:Weigel, George
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 11, 1992
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