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Lethal law

"Lethal law" Continued...

Issue: "Millions cut down," Jan. 17, 2009

Casey, of course, is the poster-guy for Democrats' born-again abortion rhetoric. After so-called "values voters" helped the GOP trounce the Democrats in the 2000 and 2004 general elections, Democratic leaders began softening their abortion message. Strident stumping about a woman's "right to choose!" gave way to sound-bites about the tragic necessity of abortion and attempts to reduce the number. But now that the Democrats are in power once again, FOCA rather than PWSA is getting the press.

It was FOCA that Obama-the-candidate supported on the campaign trail. At a July 2007 fundraising event for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (the group's political action committee), Obama said, "Well, the first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do."

Wild applause ensued.

Conservative legal analysts are not applauding. "Every scholar I've talked to assumes the federal courts will either not touch FOCA, or would uphold it," said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for Americans United for Life.

That's because two parts of the Constitution-the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment-give Congress the power to pass such a law. Historically, abortion supporters have waged their war on the bases of personal privacy and autonomy. But Forsythe and other analysts say FOCA proponents will this time argue that abortion is a medical procedure that flows in interstate commerce.

Accordingly, Forsythe has "no confidence that courts will throw out FOCA. To win against FOCA, we're going to have to keep it from getting to Obama's desk." AUL is fighting on three fronts: To date, the group has collected more than 325,000 signatures on its "Fight FOCA" petition (fightfoca.com).

The group is also publishing data on abortion in Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, and California, states that have FOCAs of their own. While the national abortion rate has been falling since 1990, abortion in FOCA states has fallen less sharply, remained static, or increased.

AUL in late November published a model resolution criticizing and rejecting FOCA. The idea is for state law-makers to pass the resolution in their own states, putting federal legislators on notice that the folks back home wouldn't take kindly to their hijacking states' rights to regulate abortion.

Back in Mississippi, Terri Herring said, pro-life activists are both bracing for FOCA and pressing forward in spite of it: They are working to pass AUL's resolution, and also new legislation that would impose strict reporting requirements for abortions performed on minors, as well as live births to minors, both of which often result from statutory rape.

Still, the thought that FOCA could instantly reverse Mississippi's progress in fighting abortion causes Herring's throat to close with tears. "It's unimaginable," she said. "This has been my life's work. I would hope that something so radical would cause an uprising from people across the United States, demanding that these common-sense laws not be struck with the stroke of a pen."

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