Posted on January 25, 2009
FOCA Hocus Pocus
Obama's impossible abortion promise
In a 1988 vice presidential debate, Dan Quayle was asked what would be the first thing he'd do if he became president. He answered, "First, I'd say a prayer for myself and for the country." For this, he was branded an idiot by the press, because; (a) he prays, and (b) he did not have a particular policy initiative in mind.
In reality, Quayle's answer was more accurate than the one that his critics had wanted, because no candidate knows what kind of emergency may arise, or what opportunity might present itself, at a given point in the future. Had he promised to sign a specific piece of legislation, as Barack Obama has done, he would have been deemed ignorant of American civics.
Early in Obama's campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination, he spoke at a Planned Parenthood event, where he promised, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." That legislation would repeal every state and federal restriction on abortion, and prohibit any others from being enacted in the future. Among other things, that would mean compelling taxpayers to fund abortions, striking down all parental consent laws, and re-legalizing partial-birth abortion.
This is, of course, the same Barack Obama who dodged the question of when the unborn acquire human rights, by saying the question was "above my pay grade." Well, he's since gotten a promotion, so perhaps the question should be put to him again.
By now, you've probably spotted the flaw in Obama's promise, in that it depends on such a bill being placed on his desk immediately. Even with a Congress as liberal as the one recently sworn in, that's an extraordinary presumption. Two previous versions had been introduced, and neither one even made it out of committee. Obama, who co-sponsored the more recent version, must know this.
A majority in Congress may want to see FOCA enacted, but they don't want the blood on their hands. They'd much rather leave the dirty work up to the judiciary, as usual. Even the prospect of a floor debate is a substantial deterrent. Regardless of where they stand on the issue, not many congressmen will want to be recorded for posterity, arguing that a minor's abortion is none of her parents' business, or that there's nothing wrong with stabbing an almost born infant in the head.
The Democrats are constantly updating their pro-abortion lexicon, in hopes of obscuring the nature of the act itself. Even their legislation is riddled with euphemisms like "personal privacy" and "reproductive health and freedom." The first three occurrences of "the A-word" in the bill are in negative references to illegal and "unsafe" abortions. Not until halfway through the document is it made apparent that these "freedom" things it discusses are abortions too.
Surely, then, they would hide New York congresswoman Louise Slaughter if at all possible. A House co-sponsor of FOCA, Slaughter also chairs the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus. This must dismay her semantically sensitive colleagues, who would prefer to keep the words "choice" and "slaughter" out of the same sentence. The fact that she continues to carry the banner of the pro-abortion movement suggests a lack of enthusiasm among her fellow Democrats to champion that cause in her stead.
Further inhibiting legislative action is the bill's dubious constitutional foundation. It is meant to retroactively codify Roe v. Wade into law, but in doing so, it would effectively create a constitutional right by statute. The bill claims the right of the legislature to do this, based on every liberal's favorite loophole, the Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which empowers Congress to "regulate commerce … among the several states."
Not to put a fine point on it, but "commerce" is the large-scale trading of commodities -- i.e., material goods -- i.e., "stuff" -- i.e., not the act of killing a tiny human being. Therefore, FOCA is as constitutionally baseless as the ruling it intends to prop up. Obama's promise, then, requires that majorities in Congress risk their careers on an unpopular piece of legislation, that is likely to get thrown out anyway.
For Obama to have promised to sign this bill upon taking office, he had to discount the role of the legislature in the process. It's as if he intended to sign a royal proclamation, as King of the 57 States of Remade America. Still, at least he's not one of those dangerous extremists, like the man who said he'd say a prayer.-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
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