A guest post from Rena Black, a friend who is studying at Villanova, regarding the proposed “Freedom of Choice Act”.
FOCA: Freedom to Choose Abortion
To whom it may concern:
I am an academic, an independent voter, a feminist, and a Catholic. Catholics as a whole are not single-issue voters. Theologically, they cannot be, because Catholic social teaching stubbornly refuses to be pigeonholed into conventional political camps. I am not a stereotype, and, for the purposes of this letter, I will not make statements about whether abortion is morally acceptable or morally wrong. My purpose here is to outline the inconsistencies of the Freedom of Choice Act, and to suggest that passing such a policy would be to alienate and misrepresent the vast majority of American citizens, pro-life or pro-choice (my mother, for example, is an ardent pro-choicer who has told me many times before that she opposes state-funded abortions).
If taxpayer money is to be used to bolster freedom of choice, then there must be at least two options from which to choose. If money is made available to support the choice of abortion, then a choice for adoption should be supported by pre-natal and neo-natal care funds, as well as funds to offset the cost of the adoption process for both biological and adoptive parents. A choice to “keep” and rear the child should be supported by pre-natal, neo-natal, and childhood health care plans. When these possibilities are considered, abortion is clearly the most cost-effective choice for a government which is footing the bill. (Unfortunately, it is also the most lucrative for agencies like Planned Parenthood, which have little to no incentive to genuinely support the decision not to abort.)
To extend the ideal of choice, we must look at the abortion procedure itself. It is, in fact, an elective surgery—meaning, of course, that one has a choice whether or not to undergo the surgery. If taxpayer money is used to support this particular sort of elective surgery, it seems unfair that other sorts of elective surgery not be subsidized for those who cannot afford them. Plastic surgery is, by definition, elective, and the reason for choosing it is precisely the same as the reason for choosing abortion: quality of life. Once there is national support for government-funded plastic surgeries, then the selection of one elective procedure for such support will not seem so suspiciously exceptional.
Should someone chose the abortion option, it must be acknowledged that the problem does not, in fact, simply disappear. Groups such as Feminists for Life, Project Rachel, and Silent No More serve and speak out on behalf of women who have undergone abortions, and their membership includes many of the same. The psychological aftershocks of abortion can be profound, and often surface much later in a person’s life. Counseling and treatment for these consequences would not be within reach of many whose abortions were subsidized through FOCA, yet there is no provision for such follow-up care in sight.
The other ironic and frankly sickening aspect of the act is the provision for compelling medical professionals to perform abortions against their consciences. The Hippocratic oath begins, famously, “First, do no harm.” If these professionals are forced to perform a surgery which they believe violates that crucial first principle, what has happened to choice? Choice has been taken away from expert medical professionals in order to “ensure” choice for women in excruciatingly difficult circumstances. To these women and their communities, the government has made a bold statement:
“Not only is abortion permitted, it is mandatory for doctors to perform. Not only must doctors perform it, it is the option we, the government, like best. If you choose abortion, things will work out just fine for you, and we don’t have to worry one bit about your child’s healthcare, her education, or the stubborn poverty which likely played a part in your situation in the first place. Oh, and here’s the money for your abortion.”
How in the world can anyone expect a choice in such circumstances to be free?!
I have yet to meet someone who truly is “pro-abortion.” No one wants abortions to happen. But if choice really is the issue at hand, then FOCA is woefully inadequate and—at best—a well-intentioned failure. The Act comes perilously close to establishing a state-preferred “solution” to unexpected pregnancies. Tellingly, the “solution” FOCA supports is the cheapest and shortest-term approach to the problem. The reasons for abortion are deep and the consequences are long lasting; the suggestions of FOCA are shallow and short-sighted. If we must use taxpayer money to improve freedom of choice, then we should be addressing the root causes for abortion-suggestive situations, and providing a system of support which truly does allow the human conscience to make free and informed choices.