NewsThu Apr 30, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Obama Flip-Flops on FOCA: Says “Not Highest Legislative Priority,” but Continues Extreme Abortion Pu
By John Jalsevac
April 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - During last night’s prime-time news conference, marking the 100th day of Obama’s presidency, the president appeared to backtrack on previous statements he had made about the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), stating that at present FOCA is "not highest legislative priority." However, as pro-lifers leaders have warned in recent months, Obama, may be well on the road to eventually implementing all that FOCA proposed by continuing to follow a stealth strategy of piecemeal implementation of FOCA.
FOCA is a bill that would eliminate all federal, state and local restrictions on abortion, and has been condemned by National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Doug Johnson, and other pro-life advocates, as "the most sweeping piece of pro-abortion legislation ever proposed in Congress." Obama had previously acted as a co-sponsor for a version of the bill.
In July 2007, while campaigning for the presidency, Obama had also told attendees at a Planned Parenthood event that, "The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do."
Obama’s comments on FOCA last night were made in response to a question from CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry, who noted that Obama is set to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in a few weeks. "As you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion," he said.
In his question Henry referenced Obama’s 2007 statement on FOCA to Planned Parenthood, continuing, "And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above - quote, above my pay grade."
"Now that you’ve been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator.
"Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?"
Obama responded that "the Freedom of Choice Act is not highest legislative priority."
"I believe that women should have the right to choose," he continued, "But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that’s - that’s where I’m going to focus."
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, called Obama’s statements on FOCA a "flip," and said that it is a "victory" for the pro-life cause.
"President Obama’s complete reversal of his major support for the quick passage of the Freedom of Choice Act is a major victory for the pro-life movement," he said. "It clearly demonstrates how the White House realizes that the American public would never accept the sweeping expansion of abortion under FOCA."
Nevertheless, he continued, "the President’s position offers new and unique challenges for the pro-life movement. There is no doubt that the President still embraces a radical pro-abortion position. The only thing that is changing is his strategy not his policies."
Well known Catholic political observer and former advisor to the Bush administration, Deal Hudson, has been more explicit in warning about the change in Obama’s strategy and has said that Americans should not be fooled into thinking that the President has abandoned his extreme pro-abortion goals.
In a March 2, 2009 commentary, Hudson stated, "As expected, the new Obama administration is removing, one by one, all the restrictions set up against abortion and its federal funding, that have been put in place since Roe v. Wade in 1973." He added, "Although the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) has not yet been introduced, the strategy of the Obama administration appears to be pursuing the equivalent outcomes of FOCA without passing FOCA itself."
In another commentary on March 9, reflecting what other pro-life leaders have concluded as well, Hudson wrote, "But whether or not FOCA reaches the floor of the Congress this session may not make much difference: Obama might get everything he wants without the bill. He has been using Friday nights to issue statements about his plans to overturn restrictions on abortion and its funding (Friday being the best time to damp down media coverage)."
Austin Ruse, Director of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, told Catholic News Agency that President Obama’s response shows that he is “very crafty” and “has many Catholic quislings giving him cover on his abortion radicalism.”
In his answer to Henry’s question, Obama also reaffirmed his "pro-choice" stance, while portraying his position on the issue as being a compromise that recognizes that abortion "is a moral issue and an ethical issue."
The president criticized abortion supporters "who suggest that this is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other considerations" and said he "would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again."
Despite his assurances of working with both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" supporters, however, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly said that, "President Obama’s agenda is clear: eliminate restrictions on abortion while trying to reduce teen pregnancy, presumably by promoting contraception."
Reilly pointed out, however, that while the Catholic Church urges teens to practice chastity, the use of artificial contraception is considered to be sinful, further highlighting the reasons why Obama should not be delivering the commencement address at Notre Dame.
See related LifeSiteNews reports:
Commentary: So Much For the "Mythical" Freedom of Choice Act
Obama’s Choice of Sebelius Heats Up the Pro-life Battle