Saturday, March 07, 2009

Catholic Hospitals and FOCA

In today’s social terms, the further “left” a worldview goes, the narrower it becomes. By its very nature, the more “postmodern” a philosophy becomes the more intolerant and power-happy it has to be. Because argumentation and persuasion are defacto non-factors, all that is left is propaganda and power. (But I digress slightly…)

In a world where religious and non-religious worldviews can live side-by-side, some hospitals can chose to provide abortions, and others can chose not to. In a world where the Federal government legislates the “right” to abortion and forces it on all medical providers, those who have a different philosophy of life are coerced – it is political tyranny.

President Obama famously promised to pass FOCA, a piece of legislation he helped co-sponsor in the past that will overturn all state and local roadblocks to abortion on demand. The Saint Louis Post Dispatch reports:

A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.

The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.

A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation "is among the congressman's priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later."


Could the Catholic Church sell their interests in their hospitals to other providers and thus get out of a moral bind?

Speaking in Baltimore in November at the bishops' fall meeting, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a Chicago auxiliary bishop, took up the issue of what to do with Catholic hospitals if FOCA became law. "It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions," he said. "That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil."

Though there is debate as to the language and the consequences of the current FOCA bill, the latest incarnation read like a guaranteed right.

In its last incarnation, FOCA defined abortion as a "fundamental right" that no government can "deny" or "interfere with." That language, FOCA's opponents warn, would help overturn abortion restrictions such as parental notification, laws banning certain procedures and constraints on federal funding.

The future, real-world consequences of legislation are tricky and always subject to debate. But I think the Catholic Church is on to something. If a guaranteed right protected and coerced by the government conflicts with their worldview at a very basic and fundamental level, they need to do something. And because abortion is, as Bishop Paprocki said, “evil,” their only morally acceptable option would be to withdraw completely if the consequences go the way they predict.

On a related note, why is it not coercion for abortion to be outlawed in most if not all circumstances? Because it is not coercion to legislate moral behavior. If abortion is the murder of innocent children, and I believe it is, the only morally acceptable action is to speak out and legislate against it. For example, it is not coercion or political tyranny to stop genocide or suicide bombers – it is a moral obligation to do so.

1 comment:

Tom Gilson said...

The "Freedom of Choice" act is actually a removal of choice: removal of choice on the matter for state and local legislatures. Obama's intention to lift the conscience clause for medical providers means reducing their choice. Your discussion here highlights Catholic hospitals' loss of choice.

If we accomplish nothing else at this point in this debate, let's at least make sure we show what a hypocritical and inconsistent thing this "Freedom of Choice" is!