So Much For the “Mythical” Freedom of Choice Act

Deal W. Hudson
March 9, 2009

Many Democrats are wise enough to have a healthy fear of FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act. Those on the religious left who support President Barack Obama are particularly sensitive to the symbolic power of FOCA to undercut their messaging about “abortion reduction.” If FOCA were to cause much-beloved Catholic hospitals to begin shutting their doors, the political impact would be devastating.

Thus, it came as no surprise several weeks ago when some of Obama’s religious supporters began accusing pro-lifers – particularly Catholics – of using FOCA as a scare tactic when it had not yet been introduced into the 111th Congress.

Amy Sullivan, an editor at TIME, wrote an article titled, “The Catholic Attack on a Mythical Abortion Bill,” singling out the U.S. Catholic bishops for their national postcard campaign against FOCA. Catholics United was predictably quoted in the story, as they are now in every media story giving pro-abortion Catholics political cover: “These right-wing organizations are deliberately misleading people in order to stoke the culture war.”

Sullivan, who wrote a good book about the “God gap” in the Democratic Party, went way out on a limb to defuse FOCA anxiety. “Congress,” she wrote, “isn’t about to pass the Freedom of Choice Act – because no such bill has been introduced in the current Congress.” True, but as Sullivan surely knows, there are several members of Congress who are itching to reintroduce FOCA, regardless of any misgivings Democratic strategists may have about its consequences in the 2010 election.

For the abortion lobby, the passage of FOCA is the holy grail of their activism and the just desserts for their strenuous – and expensive – efforts on behalf of Obama.

FOCA, as it turns out, is going to be reintroduced in the not-so-distant future. On March 6, a spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that FOCA “is among the congressman’s priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later.”

Ilan Kayatksy, the spokesman, added that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) would introduce the same bill in the Senate “with some minor tweaks.” (Representative Nadler introduced FOCA in the 108th and 110th sessions of Congress.)

Three weeks earlier, an unnamed spokesman for Representative Nadler had told Sullivan at TIME that FOCA would not be reintroduced “anytime soon.” It sounds as if Nadler’s staff needs to get its story straight. At the same time, the conflicting statements coming from the same congressional office represent the division among Democrats about the wisdom of making FOCA a legislative priority.

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). This past Friday, Obama announced he will sign an executive order requiring federal money be spent on embryonic stem cell research, removing all the restrictions placed by the Bush administration.

Friday-night statements from the White House may eventually approximate the outcome of FOCA without the controversial bill ever ending up on the president’s desk.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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