CNSNews is reporting that Catholic lawmakers who vote for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) could face "automatic excommunication", if it is determined that such a vote constituted "formal cooperation" with the "evil" of abortion. This is a question of canonical law that I have no knowledge of, so I won't go into whether a FOCA vote actually warrants automatic excommunication.
What I am interested in is how much of a backlash the Catholic Church will suffer if it excommunicates a large number of high profile members. Obviously, this would be a very high profile act, sure to get lots of media attention. With more than half of all American Catholics holding the belief that abortion should generally be legal, it will be interesting to say how the American Catholic population writ large reacts to what amount to a huge escalation in the internal stand-off between pro-life and pro-choice members of faith.
It wouldn't surprise me to see many members simply leave the church as a result. That may not be a bad thing -- I know many more traditional Catholics would happily trade size for purity in practice. But it would definitely be interesting if an automatic excommunication triggered a significant chunk of the Catholic laity to leave their faith behind.
H/T: Southern Appeal