Will FOCA force the Catholic Church out of healthcare?

We have asked this question before, on several occasions during the campaign, and now the media has begun to ask it as well.  With the Catholic Church providing over 600 hospitals nationwide, servicing mostly needy areas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders aloud today whether the Freedom of Choice Act pushed now by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would tear an irreparable hole in the nation’s safety net:

A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.

The Freedom of Choice Act failed to get out of subcommittee in 2004, but its sponsor is poised to refile it now that former Senate co-sponsor Barack Obama occupies the Oval Office.

A spokesman for Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the legislation “is among the congressman’s priorities. We expect to reintroduce it sooner rather than later.”

A NARAL spokesperson told the P-D that any suggestion of passing FOCA was just a pro-life scare tactic.  However, Barack Obama himself told Planned Parenthood that FOCA would be his first priority as President:

Some of the bishops in the church want to use an incremental approach to FOCA rather than the final option of shutdowns.  They favor a civil-disobedience approach, daring the government to come after them for refusing to perform abortions.  That keeps the hospitals open and their consciences clear.  These advocates don’t believe that Obama would dare come after them in court, but I suspect they’re being more than a little naive — as are anyone who gets fooled by NARAL’s dismissive take on the seriousness of Nadler’s effort.

Previous FOCA/Catholic posts: