Sen. Barack Obama has promised to sign the abortion lobby’s Freedom of Choice Act as his first act in office, if elected president.

The FOCA legislation, which in now before both houses of Congress, would remove all federal and state restrictions on abortion. In a Sept. 19 letter to all members of Congress, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, warned the FOCA legislation “would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry.”

Said Cardinal Rigali, “No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has sent a letter to every member of the Knights of Columbus, urging them to scrutinize the voting records and campaign commitments of every candidate for federal office to find out where they stand on FOCA.

“Remember, all that we’ve done together since Roe to save the lives of the unborn is at stake,” the letter concludes. “Please pass on this message to your pro-life friends.”

Here is the complete text of Anderson’s letter:

“Dear Brother Knight:

It is probably fair to say that no other single activity has defined the Knights of Columbus over the past half century as much as the pro-life movement. 

Following the shock of the Supreme Court’s decision to preempt all state and federal laws regulating abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973, we launched a long-term battle to fight legalized abortion.  While achieving the ultimate goal of overturning Roe remains somewhere in the future, we have been able to achieve many small successes along the way:

•      the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortions;
•      the federal law banning partial birth abortions, which was finally upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2007;
•      the “Mexico City Policy,” which has barred the use of federal taxpayers’ money to pay for abortions in other countries;
•      laws in 44 states that preserve a parental role when children under 18 seek abortions;
•      laws in 40 states that restrict late-term abortions;
•      laws in 46 states that protect the right of conscience for individual health care providers;
•      laws in 27 states that protect the right of conscience for institutions;
•      laws in 38 states that ban partial birth abortions;
•      laws in 33 states that require counseling before having an abortion;
•      and laws in 16 states that provide for ultrasounds before an abortion.

All of these restrictions on abortion - all of the progress we’ve made over the past 35 years in trying to limit and reduce abortions in the United States - would be invalidated with the stroke of a pen if the next Congress passes, and the next president signs, the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA).

Before you cast your vote on Tuesday, please take the time and effort necessary to learn whether candidates for whom you might vote favor or oppose FOCA.

The House sponsors of FOCA are listed here

The Senate sponsors of FOCA are listed here

Obviously, if a candidate in your area is not listed among the sponsors, you may have to ask his or her campaign for their position on FOCA.

We have gathered much additional information about the Freedom of Choice Act, including links to material from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and on life issues generally on a special Knights of Columbus web page.

Remember, all that we’ve done together since Roe to save the lives of the unborn is at stake.  Please pass on this message to your pro-life friends.”

— Tom McFeely

See also: “The Audacity of FOCA,” a Register editorial.