The US pro-choice movement has responded to Gonzales decision - the Supreme Court's recent anti-woman, anti-health, anti-common sense ruling upholding the Federal Abortion Ban - with the re-introduction of the Freedom of Choice Act. FOCA 2007 (the bill was originally introduced in 2004) is sponsored in the Senate by Barbara Boxer of California and in the House by Jerry Nadler of New York.

Since 1995, more than 500 anti-choice measures have been enacted on the state level. These laws disproportionately affect low-income women, leaving reproductive rights available to those who can afford them.

Now, with the Gonzales decision, a woman's health, if compromised by a pregnancy, is no longer constitutionally protected. Once Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the right to abortion is legislated on the state level - and then when laws are passed outlawing interstate travel to terminate a pregnancy - all American women will be at risk.

There are millions of American women - right now, today - for whom abortion, although technically legal, is inaccessible and unavailable. Without FOCA, it won't be long before only women who live in a handful of states will be able to legally and safely terminate a pregnancy.

No one who cares about human rights can afford to ignore this.

FOCA would restore and secure reproductive rights by establishing a federal law. It would remove the onerous obstacles now standing between American women and their ability to safely terminate a pregnancy, and thus control their lives. It would protect women's rights even when Roe v. Wade is inevitably reversed.

If you live in the US, or if many Americans read your blog, please urge your readers to contact their Senators and Congresspeople about FOCA. It's long overdue, it's the best way to fight back, and it stands a greater chance of passage than you might think.

Read Kim Gandy, president of NOW, on the Gonzales decision and on why we need FOCA.


Scott M. said...

A technical question, if you don't mind...

In Canada, the Federal government and the Provinces have different juristictions, and cannot pass "superceding" laws... they can influence each other, but can't step on each others' toes.

I take it it's not the same way in the states?

L-girl said...

States pass laws, then if someone challenges the law, the courts decide whether or not the law infringes on federally guaranteed rights. That can be a right guaranteed either by the Constitution or by a federal law.

States have tremendous autonomy. A citizen's rights vary greatly according to where she or he lives. An extreme example of this is what I blogged about yesterday. Before 1965, states in the southern US made it impossible for African-Americans to vote, even though it was their Constitutional right to do so.

Right now, abortion rights vary hugely among the states. Many restrictive state laws have been upheld as constitutional, others have been struck down as unconstitutional.

Federal laws can definitely supercede state laws. That has been the express purpose of many federal laws - to protect citizens from state laws that violate their rights.

On the other side of the coin, there's Prohibition, or the Patriot Act - restrictive federal laws that override state law.

lindsey starr said...

Thanks for the link. I went to it, and did my part in emailing...
hope so many more people do too!