FOCA: Obama Backs Away

President Barack Obama said yesterday at a White House press conference that passage of the Freedom of Choice Act “is not my highest legislative priority.”

This is welcome news and testimony to the success of the U.S. bishops in mobilizing Catholics and other Americans to oppose the abortion lobby’s draconian FOCA legislation.

However, while Obama’s comment yesterday represents a softening of his 2007 promise to Planned Parenthood to sign FOCA immediately upon becoming president, there is little reason for pro-lifers to think that Obama has modified his overall pro-abortion stance. Getting FOCA through Congress is always going to be difficult, even with the firm control the pro-abortion Democratic Party currently has in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

That’s because many congressional Democrats are much less committed to the pro-abortion agenda than is the president. And they realize voting in favor of FOCA risks alienating many of their pro-life constituents — especially Catholics.

Moreover, as the Register reported in this article we published in February, pro-life leaders have already concluded Obama intends to implement FOCA’s comprehensive pro-abortion agenda incrementally rather than in one fell swoop. And remember that Obama did not repudiate his support for FOCA yesterday; he said merely that its passage isn’t “his highest priority.”

In fact, Obama’s remarks at the press conference didn’t indicate any substantive change from the policy he has followed during the first 100 days of presidency: advancing the pro-abortion agenda incrementally by moves such as repealing the Mexico City Policy that banned funding of groups that promote abortion overseas, while maintaining that he also wants to consult with pro-life groups about how to “reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion or at least considering getting an abortion,” as Obama put it at the press conference.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, noted last week that Obama made similar comments indicating an openness to pro-life perspectives when the two met for 30 minutes March 18 at the White House.

But, Cardinal George said in an April 21 question-and-answer session at the 2009 Louisiana Priests Convention, Obama’s pro-abortion actions don’t conform with his life-affirming rhetoric.

“It’s hard to disagree with him because he’ll always tell you he agrees with you,” Cardinal George said, Catholic News Service reported. “Maybe that’s political. I think he sincerely wants to agree with you. You have to say, again and again, ‘No, Mr. President, we don’t agree [on abortion].’ But we can agree on a lot, and we do, and that’s why there is so much hope. I think we have to pray for him every day.”

Cardinal George said he told the president he was concerned about his decision to rescind the Mexico City Policy, which resulted in providing taxpayer money to fund abortion overseas, Catholic News Service reported.

“He said we weren’t exporting abortion,” the cardinal said. “I said, ‘Yes we are.’ He would say, ‘I know I have to do certain things here. ... But be patient and you’ll see; the pattern will change.’ I said, ‘Mr. President, you’ve given us nothing but the wrong signals on this issue.’ So, we’ll see, but I’m not as hopeful now as I was when he was first elected.”