Nationalizing the Abortion Debate


In what I consider a wise strategic move, Democrats have introduced legislation which would protect a woman’s right to choose under federal law, explicitly precluding state laws and constitutional amendments that undercut a woman’s rights. The anti-woman theocrats have overplayed their hand with laws like South Dakota’s, and they are only begining to realize the terrible impact their miscalculation will have. Nationalizing the issue and binding the prospects for its passage to a new Democratic majority is a brilliant way to nationalize the debate and mobilize the vast majority of Americans who don’t want to return to the days of back-alley abortions.

The new law is titled the Freedom Of Choice Act (FOCA) which cleverly emphasizes its purpose to focus voter’s attentions of women’s rights and the threat they are under from the GOP. The law rests Congressional authority on the Commerce Clause, thus there is little doubt it would survive judicial challenge. The legislation points out that 87% of counties do not have an abortion provider and thus women, not to mention medicines and supplies and the doctors performing the proceedures, are all frequently travelling in interstate commerce.

The operative portion (PDF) of the legislation is admirably brief and to the point:

(a) STATEMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.

(b) PROHIBITION OF INTERFERENCE.—A government may not—

(1) deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose—

(A) to bear a child;
(B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
(C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or

(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.

(c) CIVIL ACTION.—An individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may obtain appropriate relief (including relief against a government) in a civil action.

The effect of this legislation would be staggering. It would give a private right to sue to anyone aggreived under it’s terms, essentially eliminating any hurdles or disabilities to abortion rights at the state level. In one fell blow the state legislatures would be put out of the abortion regulation business.

Say what you will about Democratic strategy (oxymoron anyone?), sometimes we get it absolutely right despite our own best efforts. FOCA can be as powerful a national rallying cry as ever were such stunts as the gay-bashing state ballot measures of ’04 or Bush’s DOA marriage amendment. The vast majority of Americans will strongly approve of this legislation, and send Democrats to Congress to make it a reality, if local candidates start running on it.

This is a political gift, candidates; don’t let it pass you by. The assualt on women’s reproductive rights by the Bush Administration and Republican’s nationally mustn’t go unaswered.

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Michael founded as the Howard Dean presidential campaign blog for Arizona in 2003, and has been blogging ever since. Michael is an attorney living in Tucson with his wife Lauren. In 2008, Michael remade BlogForArizona into a collaborative project. Michael now is but one of the contributors to the blog and provides editorial and publishing direction in consultation with the Board of Directors and the other authors. If you want to keep up with the latest Arizona and National political news in an entertaining quick hit of news and opinion, check out the BlogForArizona twitter feed, which Mike curates under the hashtag #MB.


  1. I urge everyone to call Governor Rounds office in South Dakota and tell the person who answers, that until the South Dakota legislature repeals the abortion ban you will not go see Mount Rushmore, nor will you do business with any company in South Dakota.

    Then join the campaign for progressive legislation.

    The Republican Party appears vulnerable and weak at the cash registers of the companies that give money to them. Make legislative demands of these companies that give money to the Republican party and boycott them until the CEO of the company gets the Republican party to pass a progressive agenda.

    I also urge people in South Dakota to call their local Dominos Pizza restaurant and tell the manager that they will not patronize their business until they get their CEO to call upon the SD legislature and get the legislature to repeal the abortion ban.

    Join the campaign for progressive legislation

    I seek activist volunteers to pass this letter around for a project that will force the speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to enact progressive legislation. I also seek volunteer activists to do this project to force Senator Frist to enact progressive legislation.

    If you want to send me email please place the word PRIVATE in the subject or it will not reach me. Thank you.

    Send the following letter to Speaker Hastert and Senator Frist. After you send them email or US mail drop me an email that you sent them email so I can keep track of how many emails and letters they receive, thank you.

    Pass this progressive agenda or face a mass boycott of Republican contributors.

    I demand that you get the Republican Party to hold a press conference and accede to these demands. Until such a press conference happens and the legislation and/or actions gets passed I will boycott products from Republican contributors Walmart, Wendy’s, Outback Steak House, Dominos Pizza, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Eckerd, CVS and Walgreens, Curves for women health clubs, GE and Exxon/Mobil.

    I demand that congress pass legislation ending the war in Iraq and withdraw the troops and arrange with the United Nations to replace US troops with UN troops to defend Iraq until The Iraqi army can defend Iraq.

    I demand that the Republican party end their aggressive and hateful action to end a woman’s right to choose abortion or not.

    I demand that the Congress of the United states and the president of the United States enact a law to increase the minimum wage to TEN dollars an hour and also to extend unemployment benefits to a year or more for all people whose unemployment benefits expired after 6 months even though they still seek work.

    I demand that the Congress of the United States to not privatize social security benefits in any form including taking a percentage of the social security tax and placing it in private accounts. People can already create their own pensions with money after taxes in the private sector.

    I demand that the congress make all of a person’s earned income taxable for social security FICA tax purposes and remove the 88,000 dollar taxable income limit. This will make social security solvent for many years to come.

    I demand the congress increase the payroll tax in order to make social security solvent as well.

    I demand congress and the president enact a prescription drug benefit under Medicare Part B which covers 80 percent of medication cost, with no extra premium, no extra deductibles, no means test and no coverage gaps, and no penalties for signing up in a succeeding year.

    I demand congress repeal the faulty Medicare law HR 1 / S 1 passed by congress in Nov 2003.

    I demand congress enact single payer universal health insurance for every citizen as minimum coverage.

    I demand that congress and the president enact universal vote by mail throughout the 50 states of the United States of America with paper ballots easy to fill out and difficult to change or invalidate by Republican Party officials. This will prevent Republicans from vote suppression by skin color and political party which happened electronically and in person in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

    I demand that congress and the president enact that civil servants on every state payroll keep track of voter registrations and vote counting of mail in votes in each precinct and not companies such as Choicepoint. We need to take the Republican Party out of the business of keeping track of voter registration and counting votes.

    I demand that congress and the president ban the secretary of state in each of the 50 states from engaging in politics especially acting as a campaign official for a presidential campaign.

    I demand congress enact legislation protecting private pensions from corporations deliberately declaring bankruptcy or ending pensions outright.

    I do this in the spirit of peaceful resistance to a congress that refuses to enact this legislation.


    Then call your local franchise or store that sells products of companies mentioned for boycott and tell them unless the Republican Party enacts the above demands, you will no longer do business with them, so get the CEO of the parent company to get the GOP to accede to these demands. No company wants thousands of people boycotting them espcially getting thousands of phone calls from citizens demanding a progressive agenda enacted or they lose our business.

    Tell others to send this mail and to call these companies local franchises. In the case of General Electric call your local store that sells General Electric products.


  2. The issue is privacy. The overriding issue is whether the government belongs in the personal decisions of individuals that relate to their bodies and, by extrapolation, to the behavior of consenting adults in the privacy of their bedrooms. Any medical procedure is a matter between a woman, her conscience and her physician. We live in a sex-crazed society where the interest in sex is prurient. My position is that we should keep the Government out of the bedroom and sex in the bedroom.

  3. Many of my Democratic friends have taken the same position as I have;Sen. Hillary Clinton;Sen. Joe Biden; Sen. Joe Lieberman;former Sen. Dennis DeConcini;and you will notice some are running for President. Also Governor Janet Napolitano and I are in “LOCKSTEP” in Arizona across the board. In 2008 the Governor will play a very important role in the election of a Democratic President,as she is very likely to be the Attorney General of the United States!

  4. I looked again at the Main page of my web-site under “Priorities,” I have listed as one of them “Civil Liberties,” that has been there since April of 2004.

    I consider Abortion to be a Civil Liberty, as defined by The Supreme Court. I did not think it necessary to defend something that IS law.

    The thrust of my Campaign in 2004 and 2006 and 2008 is Constant and will not change; “respecting The Rule of Law!”

  5. Your topic ‘” Nationalizing The Abortion Debate,” is confusing.

    Governors Nationalize The National Guard.
    They are States Commanders In Chiefs.

    They can tell The president to “Back Off” of taking control of Nationalization.

    I can see a Time in The Future ,if we continue Roe V Wade as a current “Debate,” that States will act independently of The Federal Government on alot of Mandates from Judges that Legislate from the Bench,and the whole thing will unravel.

    12 million Mexican Nationals that do not vote are not for Roe V Wade. What happens in The States where they are heavy voters, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, New york, and the North East?
    As this population approaches 50 million as there are 28 million in Country now add 12 million you get 50 million people that will have an impact on everything we do in this Country, from Moral Values to Social Programs. Don’t forget they are Catholics, will they listen to the Pope?

  6. My Uncle is a Luthern Minister also in P.A. His father before him was a Luthern Minister. I was Baptised by his father at birth.

    The Moral fabric of The United States after Roe V Wade became so controversial that the divorce rate shot up to over 50%.

    Democrats are loosing elections based on Moral Values both in 2000 and in 2004. It is yet to be seen if we can pull off “That Bush Lied,” to get us elected in 2006.

    I do not like Campaigns that are not based on the issues that are facing us in the future;instead we must continue to look back at a Law that no Nation in the World would pass, or even consider.

  7. Mike let me tell you what Paul Eckerstrom, Pima County Democratic Party Chairman, told me to do when Campaigning against Jim Kolbe in 2004,at meetings and at The ACLU.

    Attack Jim Kolbe directly concerning being GAY!
    I never heard anyone at any ACLU meeting reflect that feeling and I would never do it anyway.

    The same goes with Roe V Wade ; this is between your God and yourself, you will have to live with it not me.

  8. I as Senator Joe Lieberman have the same opinion; that the Federal Government should not be involved in anything of a personal nature regarding a man’s right or a womans right to choose.

    I would not vote to change law that has presidence.

    I am a States Rights advocate, this should have been handled by The States, not The Federal Government.

    Iam very aware at what happened in The Laws across the Country at the time Roe was passed , and most people felt sorry for The Woman involved until we found out it was all a lie and just a couple of lawyers using a woman to further their cause!

    I do not like the way Roe v Wade “Tricked,” its client and The Courts and the Nation into passing a Law that is so divisive, and “Political” in nature that the “Question” must be asked of everyone from a Supreme Court Justice Nominee to a Federal Candidate for Congress,before passing judgement if to support or oppose the Candidate!

    I personally feel it is no-ones bussiness and makes no difference how I would vote on anything.

  9. I disagree. I don’t see anywhere on Mr. Leister’s campaign literature his stand on women’s reproductive rights. It is an issue in this camapaign and an important one. I want to hear what every candidate has to say on the subject, not evasion about this important civil liberties issue.

    The question still stands, Dwight: Do you support a woman’s constitution right to choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy prior to the infant’s viability, as articulated in Roe v. Wade? I’m waiting.

  10. Mike, I don’t think Dwight is arguing the merits of Roe v. Wade, but rather, how to handle it as a part of your platform in districts where there is the possibility for a greater emotional reaction that will overwhelm the rest of your message.

    It seems to me to be most wise to focus on the core of your platform as it provides the greatest value to the audience at hand. This district that is not primarily pro-choice – unless you are deep in the Bible Belt, I would imagine that there is something bigger than reproductive rights on their minds. You need to deal with that primarily. When women’s reproductive rights becomes the topic, you describe your position succinctly, without inserting emotional content, and then get back to your primary points.

    Remember that is is not how well you centered in your lane that gets you to your destination. I am only going to ride with you if you convince me that you know were you’re going.

  11. Dwight, an issue pivot is not going to cut it. I am asking you a very simple question which is reasonable and requires only a yes or no answer: Do you support a woman’s constitution right to choose to abort an unwanted pregnancy prior to the infant’s viability, as articulated in Roe v. Wade?

  12. Mike let me tell you a story about Abortion rights. If in the 1940’s abortion rights would have been as accepted as it is today ,”I would not be here!”

    Now some might say great!

    But for one whom has seen the pain of what an unwanted child can do to a family,as some were supportive and some were not, putting me through a childhood that was full of turmoil that should never have occured.

    Now you are asking me if I think I should have been aborted?

  13. The issue is not what I believe or do not believe ; it is what IS the “Folklore” of this District 8 being a Republican District, and as Juan Mase told me many years ago ‘”Its better to “shut up” about an issue than take everyone down with you!”

    As Senator John McCain is now doing speaking at places where he is not welcome,and would never have been speaking in the past, people arn’t stupid, they know he is pandering to the voters.

    Look at the 2004 election where every Democratic Party meeting could not get off the message of Bush Lied , Bush is a Traitor, Etc; look what it got us, a republican house,Senate,President and Supreme Court. Continued negative campaigns and bringing up issues that are known to be divisive is not where I want to go in a District where a moderate can win,I will say it again a left of center candidate either a Republican or a Democrat can not win this district, and that is backed up by The Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez and Raul Grijalvia! At the Legislative District 26 meetings we were warned many times not to run candidates that are hard left of center,and if we wanted to win seats to move to the center. Why do you think not only John McCain is doing this but also Hillary Clinton? “Watch what the Party is doing “Not what the Party is Saying!”

  14. Let me get this straight. You are saying that any Democratic candidate for Congress in CD 8 cannot win if s/he stands up for abortion rights? Is that what you are telling me? Are you saying that YOU will not take a stand in favor of abortion rights, Dwight?

  15. Mike; calm down, I am not talking about just “ANY” Democratic Club. The club Iam referring to told me since I live south of Tangerine road (1) one block, in Oro Valley I was not eligible to speak at the Democratic Club of Oro Valley that meets in Rancho Vistoso,which is still Oro Valley! They told me how dare I speak as a Candidate for Congress in cd8 since “DR.VOLGY,” was the Democratic Parties Pick!


    What I have said from the beginning of my Campaign is that traditional Democratic Values do not fly in Oro Valley, and among Republican voters in Disrtict 8. A Candidate that is LEFT OF CENTER IN DISTRICT 8 WILL LOOSE THE ELECTION!

    I said I would have been thrown out of “THE DEMOCRATIC CLUB IN ORO VALLEY,” and I stand by that statement.

    Abortion in Oro Valley is not a topic of discussion.

    The average income in Oro Valley is 85,000 per family, in Tucson it is 24,000 per family, do you get what Iam saying?

  16. Dwight, I said nothing about gay rights. I compared the rally effect of this bill to that of gay bashing initiatives among the Right. Just what exactly that I said would get you thrown out of any Democratic club?