NOW Applauds Senate Defeat of Abortion Ban Amemdment. But our work is not finished.

NOW Applauds Senate Defeat of Abortion Ban Amendment, Urges Removal of Stupak-Pitts in Conference

Statement of Terry O'Neill, National NOW President

December 8, 2009

The National Organization for Women applauds the Senate for voting to table and effectively defeat the Nelson-Hatch Amendment to the health care reform bill. This victory is just one small step, however, toward enacting health care reform that recognizes health care as a human right, abortion as health care and women as deserving of coverage that meets all of their medical needs.

The Nelson-Hatch Amendment would have instituted a ban on abortion care coverage in the proposed health insurance exchanges, which are expected to serve tens of millions of people. It would have far extended the Hyde Amendment's already shameful restrictions on abortion funding. It would have betrayed the promise that no one would lose health care coverage they currently have due to reform. And, in all likelihood, this prohibition on abortion coverage would have spread industry-wide in little time.

That's why NOW is thanking all of our activists for the many messages they sent and calls they made to their senators. Our early and strong call to reject any health care legislation containing Stupak-Pitts language made its mark. Our virtual and physical presence on Capitol Hill helped send the message that health care reform should not be negotiated on the backs of women. We thank the 54 senators who listened to our concerns and considered women's health and well-being as they voted.

The bad news is that the similar Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which the House did pass last month, is still in place. When the two versions of the bill are reconciled and merged into one, abortion opponents will no doubt demand that the Stupak language be maintained in order to win their votes on the bill. We cannot let this happen.

Make no mistake, the efforts of the radical right are to outlaw all abortion. They will use whatever method is convenient, and right now that happens to be health care reform. They want women's rights supporters to compromise, but they won't budge an inch. Well, in case they haven't noticed, we're done compromising. NOW urges legislators to oppose the entire bill unless the Stupak-Pitts provisions are removed in conference. Women's lives are at risk, and our rights are not for sale.