Parishes to join FOCA postcard protest

The Pro-Life Office of the Archdiocese of Boston will launch a massive campaign through the parishes to flood congressional offices with postcards protesting efforts to reintroduce the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

To facilitate the effort, which will be launched the weekend of March 28 and 29, the archdiocese will be delivering 250,000 postcards, including 20,000 in Spanish, to the parishes to be signed and stamped by parishioners, said Marianne Luthin, the director of the Pro-Life Office. It is a nationwide campaign sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The FOCA bill from the last Congress would eliminate virtually all state and federal restrictions on abortions, including parental consent provisions,” she said.

A new bill has not yet been filed for the 2009-2010 congressional session, and the previous bill died with the last session. However, this campaign is part of a national effort to let representatives and senators in Washington know that there is serious and popular opposition to it, she said.

William F. Donovan, the state deputy of the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus, said the Knights will be active in supporting this postcard effort.

“I expect all knights to help in any way they can,” he said.

In a letter to priests announcing the postcard campaign, Father Richard M. Erikson, the vicar general of the archdiocese, wrote: “These initiatives, if passed, would establish abortion as a fundamental right in all 50 states.”

The measure would also end the conscience rights of medical personnel and hospitals and require citizens to support abortion through their tax dollars, he said.

Luthin said, “There is a lot of confusion out there about FOCA. Many people think the old bill is still around and others think it will not come back,” she said. “We don’t know exactly how or when it will be reintroduced. There is talk that it will be broken up into smaller pieces. This postcard drive will let people in Washington know that we care and we are watching them.”

The postcards are pre-printed on one piece of cardstock with perforations separating three cards that can be torn off: one for the local representative and two for the senators, Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, she said. At each parish, local pro-life volunteers will be encouraged to help parishioners fill out the cards and fill in the correct name for that specific parish’s representative.

Each of the cards has a message printed on it that includes the words: “Please oppose FOCA or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion. As your constituent, I would appreciate a written response telling me how you would vote on these matters.”

Other dioceses in the state are also participating in the campaign, Luthin said. The Dioceses of Fall River and Worcester held their postcard protest drives in January and the Diocese of Springfield is expected to hold its drive in April.