The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

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

Statement of Terry O'Neill, NOW President


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

The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.