The Obama administration is barely a week old, yet Catholics already are mobilizing against its pro-choice stance on several fronts, staging a popular YouTube video that’s racking up close to 100,000 hits a day and organizing a mass mailing of millions of cards to Congress.
Titled “Imagine Spot 1,” the video premiered Jan. 20 on Black Entertainment Television. It has brought in nearly 700,000 views in eight days and was one of YouTube’s top 10 most-viewed videos on Inauguration Day. It was also discussed Wednesday night on TV’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The 30-second spot opens with an ultrasound of a child in utero to violin music.
“The child’s future is a broken home,” a caption reads. “He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him.”
As the music grows louder and an outline of the moving child can clearly be seen, “Despite the hardships he will endure, this child will become -” a photo of President Obama in front of a cheering crowd flashes on the screen - “the first African-American president.”
As another picture of the president appears, “Life. Imagine the Potential,” the caption concludes.
“We’re using Barack Obama as a pro-life messenger,” explained Brian Burch, president of Fidelis, the Chicago-based Catholic advocacy group that created the ad.
“We were disappointed in his election in terms of our mission,” he added. “But the thought was: Why fight the euphoria when you can use it?”
He is in negotiations with NBC about airing the ad during Sunday’s Super Bowl, as donors, he said, are ready to come up with the $1.5 million an ad would cost. He also hopes the ad will highlight how one out of every three black pregnancies is aborted.
“What this issue brings to fore for the first African-American president is that a huge portion of his race is being murdered every year,” Mr. Burch said. “It begs the question of how many Barack Obamas are being killed today?”
In a campaign sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic parishioners nationwide last Sunday received during Mass three pre-printed cards. Addressed to members of Congress, the cards protesting the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), legislation that would overturn dozens of state laws limiting abortion. Mr. Obama promised in 2007 that, if elected, he would sign FOCA into law if passed by Congress.
Calling it “the most radical and divisive pro-abortion bill ever introduced in Congress,” the cards ask senators and representatives to oppose FOCA, which was reintroduced in April 2007 but currently lies dormant.
Dioceses around the country began ordering millions of the cards last month, said Dierdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the USCCB’s pro-life secretariat.
Even if FOCA never makes it through Congress, “the wind is in the sails of the abortion majorities in both houses,” Miss McQuade said. “What the FOCA stands for - making abortion a fundamental right - would make abortion a federal entitlement. Whether the bill is pursued wholesale or piecemeal, Congress should not support it, politically or morally.”
The current mail campaign is the seventh the USCCB has mounted against abortion or human cloning since 1993, resulting in a total of 96 million cards sent to Capitol Hill.
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Both the Washington Archdiocese and the Arlington Diocese participated in the campaign, and several priests referred to the cards during their homilies.
At his sermon at last Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God Church in Chinatown, the Rev. William Cleary referred to the cards provided in the pews and described a series of possible consequences of FOCA: state funding of abortions, invalidations of health and safety requirements for clinics and abortion providers, and the end of “conscience clauses” that let religious institutions refuse to provide abortions.
“We will close the Catholic hospitals in the United States rather than conform to FOCA,” he said.
On Tuesday, Virginia Catholics claimed a small victory when they united to defeat a proposed state bill leveling restrictions against Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy, a Catholic-owned store in Chantilly that refuses to stock contraceptives.
“The Republicans were gung ho to kill it,” said Bob Laird, the pharmacy’s executive director who attended a debate on the bill at a House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee hearing in Richmond.
The bill, proposed by Del. David L. Englin, Alexandria Democrat, failed on a vote of 14 to 8.
Victor Morton contributed to this article.