The Family Research Council is launching a $100,000 advertising campaign attacking the Freedom of Choice Act and Sen. Barack Obama. The ad will appear in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan and Washington, DC, according to a report from Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody.
To read more about the rationale for the Freedom of Choice Act, Melody Rose wrote, When a Right is Not Enough; Amie Newman wrote, Pro-Choice Leaders Push Legislative Justice;
and we provide this helpful Fact v. Fiction primer demonstrating that
restricting abortion — which has been the goal of the far-right — is not successful at reducing abortion but providing accurate information and education about reproductive health is.
The Freedom of Choice is Act is a rare piece of legislation where the language is so clear and concise that it is worth sharing below, especially for readers who may not be familiar with it. The legislation was proposed after the Supreme Court passed a federal ban on abortion procedures performed in the late stages of pregnancy even when the life or health of the mother was in danger.
The Freedom of Choice Act can be found here, though all the relevant portions are excerpted below so that readers can understand the bill:
Freedom of Choice Act
(1) The United States was founded on the principles of
individual liberty, personal privacy, and equality. Such principles
ensure that each individual is free to make the most intimate decisions
free from governmental interference and discrimination.
(2) A woman’s decision to commence, prevent, continue, or
terminate a pregnancy is one of the most intimate decisions an
individual ever faces. As such, reproductive health decisions are best
made by the woman, in consultation with her medical provider or loved
ones, without governmental interference.
(3) In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479),
and in 1973, in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113) and Doe v. Bolton (410 U.S.
179), the Supreme Court recognized the right to privacy protected by
the Constitution and that such right encompassed the right of every
woman to weigh the personal, moral, and religious considerations
involved in deciding whether to commence, prevent, continue, or
terminate a pregnancy.
(4) The Roe v. Wade decision carefully balanced the
rights of women to make important reproductive decisions with the
state’s interest in potential life. Under Roe v. Wade and Doe v.
Bolton, a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy is
absolute only prior to fetal viability, with the state permitted to ban
abortion after fetal viability except when necessary to protect the
life or health of a woman.
(5) These decisions have protected the health and lives
of women in the United States. Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, an
estimated 1,200,000 women each year were forced to resort to illegal
abortions, despite the known hazards that included unsanitary
conditions, incompetent treatment, infection, hemorrhage,
disfiguration, and death.
(6) According to one estimate, prior to 1973, as many
as 5,000 women died each year in the United States as a result of
having an illegal abortion.
(7) In countries where abortion remains illegal, the
risk of complications and maternal mortality is high. According to the
World Health Organization, of the approximately 600,000
pregnancy-related deaths occurring annually around the world, 80,000
are associated with unsafe abortions.
(8) The Roe v. Wade decision expanded the opportunities
for women to participate equally in society. In 1992, in Planned
Parenthood v. Casey (505 U.S. 833), the Supreme Court observed that,
`[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and
social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to
control their reproductive lives.’.
(9) Even though the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteed a
constitutional right to choose whether to terminate or continue a
pregnancy, threats to that right remain, including possible reversal or
further erosion by the Supreme Court of the right, and legislative and
administrative policies at all levels of government that make abortion
more difficult and dangerous to obtain.
(10) 87 percent of the counties in the United States have no abortion provider.
(11) Legal barriers to the full range of reproductive services endanger the health and lives of women.
(12) Women should have meaningful access to
reproductive health services to prevent unintended pregnancies, thereby
reducing the need for abortions.
(13) To ensure that a woman’s right to choose whether
to terminate a pregnancy is available to all women in the United
States, Federal protection for that right is necessary.
(14) Although Congress may not create constitutional
rights without amending the Constitution, Congress may, where
authorized by its enumerated powers and not prohibited by the
Constitution, enact legislation to create and secure statutory rights
in areas of legitimate national concern.
(15) Congress has the affirmative power under section 8
of article I of the Constitution and section 5 of the 14th amendment to
the Constitution to enact legislation to facilitate interstate commerce
and to prevent State interference with interstate commerce, liberty, or
equal protection of the laws.
(16) Federal protection of a woman’s right to choose to
prevent or terminate a pregnancy falls within this affirmative power of
Congress, in part, because–
- (A) many women cross State lines to obtain abortions and many more
would be forced to do so absent a constitutional right or Federal
- (B) reproductive health clinics are commercial
actors that regularly purchase medicine, medical equipment, and other
necessary supplies from out-of-State suppliers; and
- (C) reproductive health clinics employ doctors,
nurses, and other personnel who travel across State lines in order to
provide reproductive health services to patients.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
(a) STATEMENT OF POLICY- It is the policy of the United
States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a
child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to
terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect
the life or health of the woman.
(b) PROHIBITION OF INTERFERENCE- A government may not–
(1) deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose–
- (A) to bear a child;
- (B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
- (C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or
(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set
forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits,
facilities, services, or information.
In this Act:
(3) VIABILITY- The term `viability’ means that stage of
pregnancy when, in the best medical judgment of the attending physician
based on the particular medical facts of the case before the physician,
there is a reasonable likelihood of the sustained survival of the fetus
outside of the woman.
What the Family Research Council Won’t Tell You
What the Family Research Council will not tell you is that one of the reasons they want to overturn Roe v. Wade is not simply to return the issue to the states, but to attempt to pass a federal abortion ban outlawing all abortions in all fifty states. Social conservatives have already tried to use the federal government to intervene in social issues at the end of life, in the Terri Schiavo case, and by attempting to overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity Law. The far-right will talk about states’ rights, unless they disagree with what a state chooses to do and they have power at the federal level to undo it. The courts, including the Roberts Court, protected individual and state rights against the wishes of the far-right. The most conservative members, Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Thomas did not side with states’ rights, but with the federal government’s attempt to overturn the wishes of individuals and states.
The Freedom of Choice Act is about ensuring what the law already provides, legal access to a safe abortion based on the private decisions of the woman, her family, her conscience; and the medical information available to her physician. Isn’t that where private medical decisions should be made, rather than by angry far-right activists trying to legislate every complex medical case?
Here is the Family Research Council ad, and one political note: $100,000 spread over five states is not a significant ad buy, so it is likely more people will see this online than on TV and its impact in a crowded market will be minimal. We cover it here in an effort to continue separating fact from fictions that the far-right puts out as they turn up the heat on sexual and reproductive health issues.