House committee approves Freedom of Choice Act, but future action uncertain.

  • Published 1993 in Washington memo

Abstract

By a vote of 20-15, the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee reported out H.R.25, the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), on May 19, 1993. During deliberations, the committee narrowly defeated several amendments proposed by abortion opponents, which would have required waiting periods and prohibited late abortions, and, instead, accepted several offered by supporters of abortion rights. The tension-filled debate highlighted the politics of FOCA, a debate so tangled that House Speaker Tom Foley has expressed doubt that sufficient consensus can be reached to allow the bill to move to the House floor this year. Opponents introduced 4 main amendments, all defeated by the committee with razor-thin margins. The closest call came on an amendment offered by Representative Henry Hyde that would have permitted states to require waiting periods as endorsed last year by the US Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. The most difficult discussions were about amendments offered by prochoice committee members, since they revealed the divisions over the bill within the prochoice community itself. Some organizations, including the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as well as some key prochoice congressional advocates argued that since many states have adopted restrictions on abortion that were upheld by the Supreme Court, failure to accept that political reality in FOCA makes passage virtually impossible. Other prochoice supporters in Congress and groups including the National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union reject that claim, arguing that such provisions are tantamount to congressional endorsement of these state restrictions and an invitation to other states to adopt similar measures. There are two levels of controversy surrounding FOCA which will hamper the bills progress to the full Senate. The first is between the supporters and opponents of abortion, and the second is among supporters of abortion rights about how much latitude states need to have under FOCA so that the bill will garner enough state support to move forward.

Cite this paper

@article{1993HouseCA, title={House committee approves Freedom of Choice Act, but future action uncertain.}, author={}, journal={Washington memo}, year={1993}, volume={9}, pages={1-2} }