Yes Mitt Romney won the first debate. Yes this might sound like spin or delusion on an almost psychotic and sycophantic basis but if I've learned anything from candidate Obama or President Obama it's to never think he doesn't have a plan.
With the dust cloud settling over the contraception fight and the Democrats clearly coming out on top of the bewildered Republicans and Catholic Bishops, shocked that their demagoguing of social issues isn't working like it did in the 80s or 90s or even the last decade. It's being suggested by some liberals that now is the perfect time not just to play defense on the point of contraception but to go on the offense on the issue of choice and fight back against the barrage of State legislation that has sought to bring women's right to choose to a grinding halt. And now the failure of the Virginia legislation to force vaginal ultrasounds on women has added even more momentum to our side and pulled back the curtain on the crazed efforts Republicans have been giving to de facto outlaw abortion.
To this point I would like to raise a little piece of legislation that seems to have been all but forgotten, The Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA was introduced to much fanfare back in the 110th Congress and then Senator Obama made it another of his campaign promises to sign it in order to protect women's right to choose. But once the 111th congress rolled around and the bottom fell out on the economy bigger legislative efforts occupied the battlefield of congress and the Freedom of Choice Act fell by the wayside.
The Freedom of Choice Act has been described as simply "codifying Roe v. Wade" but in actuality it's a bit more important than that, since it would continue to ensure access to abortion even if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The most important thing FOCA does is prohibit State and Local government from preventing women from accessing abortion services and allows for civil suits against them if they do. It codifies the right of Women to choose to bear a pregnancy to birth, choose to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability, or choose to terminate a pregnancy after viability if the life of the mother is threatened.
Despite Republican and Anti-Choice assertions that FOCA would overturn the Hyde Amendment, overturn the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, or overturn Conscience exemptions for Catholic hospitals that receive Federal funding it would do none of those things (even if we progressives might wish that it does). What I mean by this is that it's not a radical piece of legislation to counterbalance the radicalness of the Right. It's a very common sensical piece of legislation that will codify women's rights and wipe away the patchwork of State laws seeking to strip them away.
After trying to scuttle health care reform with the Stupak amendment, defund Planned Parenthood in the budget process, pass a whole slew of State laws to block and outlaw abortion, try to pass "Personhood" amendments to State constitutions, defund Planned Parenthood through the Komen foundation, block the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and mandate vaginal ultrasounds I say it's time we go back on the offensive. Democrats need to reintroduce and pass the Freedom of Choice Act.
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