Paul M. Weyrich's Final Piece

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Tue Dec 30 00:16:28 MST 2008

Free Congress Foundation Commentary:
Abortion as a Test of Conscience and of Campaign Commitment
By Paul M. Weyrich
December 22, 2008

The President-elect appears to have stepped back from some of his campaign 
promises. That merely is speculation. We shall see. The President-elect did 
make a dogmatic statement regarding the so-called "Freedom of Choice" Act 
(FOCA). He said he will propose FOCA, which would eliminate all State and 
Federal restrictions upon abortion. It would purport to force Christian 
hospitals to perform abortions or close. It would demand that physicians 
perform abortions or give up their practice.

Whatever happened to freedom of conscience? A hallmark of professionalism 
in the United States has been that we never force anyone to violate his or 
her conscience in the performance of a duty. That is the first line of 
defense of the pro-life movement. Even more than the Hyde Amendment, which 
has prohibited funding by the Federal Government of many abortions, the 
idea of freedom of conscience unites all parties in the pro-life movement, 
which has made progress since the passage of the Hyde Amendment. There 
hardly has been a Congress which made no progress on the right-to-life 
issue. And when progress was stymied at the Federal level, many 
restrictions were enacted at the State level. Most were tested in the 
Federal courts and were held to be constitutional.

It is inconceivable to me that a majority in Congress can't agree upon 
freedom of conscience. Counting the votes, I doubt that there are enough 
pro-lifers in Congress to maintain the restrictions previously passed by 
Congress. However, even honest liberals would favor allowing a physician to 
practice medicine consistent with his or her life-saving principles of 
conscience. Most Republicans, as well as many Democrats, ran as pro-lifers 
in the 2008 election. This fundamental issue may become the first test of 
their commitment to life. If we force hospitals and physicians to perform 
abortions against their beliefs, in other words in violation of their 
conscience, then we will be on a downward spiral from which there may be no 

This will be a test, America. God help all of us.

The late Paul M. Weyrich was Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
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