WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The United States has some "modest, common-sense" policies supported by pro-lifers and abortion advocates, and a U.S. bishops' official is urging Congress to protect them.

This appeal came in a Feb. 5 letter written by Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the bishops' Committee for Pro-life Activities.

He noted that one of Congress' first orders of business this session is examining appropriations bills to keep federal programs funded, and in this process, the bishop warned against removing anti-abortion clauses.

Noting the widespread lack of support for the Freedom of Choice Act, he cautioned: "While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress' appropriations process."

"Lawmakers who disagree about the legal status of abortion have long agreed that Americans should not be forced by government to support or participate in abortion against their will," the cardinal added. "Efforts to coerce consciences in this way violate any possible definition of 'pro-choice,' and undermine our nation’s long tradition of respect for conscience and religious freedom."

Making sense

Cardinal Rigali went on to list several amendments to protect, legislation with aims ranging from keeping American tax dollars from funding abortions to protecting the rights of conscience for healthcare officials.

"These and similar laws have been in effect for many years, no matter which party controlled Congress or the White House, because they are modest, common-sense policies that are widely supported even among people who disagree on the legal status of abortion," the cardinal affirmed. "In a society that often seems torn between the values of 'choice' and 'life,' it is easy to agree that we should honor the consciences of pregnant women and healthcare professionals who want to choose life.

"In a society that wants to reduce abortions, it makes no sense for government to force its citizens to fund and promote abortion."

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On the Net:

Complete text of letter: www.usccb.org/prolife/rigali_2-5-09.pdf