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National Organization for Women
NOVEMBER 20, 2004
5:31 PM
CONTACT: National Organization for Women 
Jenny Thalheimer, 202-641-1906
Republican Legislators Reward Radical Right-Wing with Blow to Women's Health Care

WASHINGTON -- November 20 -- In a backdoor maneuver of the worst kind, anti-abortion legislators are attempting to destroy a woman's legal right to receive reproductive health care services. House and Senate Republicans snuck potentially sweeping language into the House spending bill allowing health care providers to use their personal religious opinions to restrict health care services to women. The National Organization for Women is appalled by this tactic, a despicable move by the Republican leadership to thank its right-wing base by sacrificing hard-fought - and often life saving - medical care options for women and girls.

"What we're seeing here is our worst nightmare -- Congress trying to rob women of their full access to health care," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "This cynical measure has imminently dangerous implications for women because it places their lives in the hands of insurance companies and overzealous medical administrative staff."

Under the proposed legislation called The Federal Refusal Clause, HMOs and insurance companies could refuse to provide any abortion services, information or referrals to abortion services - even if she asks - and in extreme cases of rape or incest. This is similar to the conscience clause pharmacists invoke when they refuse to fill women's birth control prescriptions. This gag makes women's bodies the property of right-wing legislators and allows insurance providers' personal and religious beliefs to dictate her ability to health care.

"This is simply some version of allowing claims adjusters to deny women their constitutional right to health care," said Gandy. "The wrath of the anti-abortion movement is going to send women back farther than the dark alleys - we're heading toward the black market."

"Women in life threatening situations will die if this legislation passes," said Gandy. "We applaud the bipartisan effort to stop this stealth legislation, which has had no hearings or floor discussion, but their voices - which represent the majority of voters - have been silenced."

This is the tragic beginning of a tyrannical march to indenture girls and women as second class citizens, slowly limiting their autonomy and authority over their basic health decisions. NOW will not sit idle or silent while girls and women are used as pawns to repay political favors to a vocal minority.


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