The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

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

NOW to Senate: Don't Let Us Down on Health Care Reform

Statement of Terry O'Neill, NOW President


Is it too much to ask for health care reform to benefit the people,
not the for-profit insurance industry? Is it too much to ask that
members of Congress stop negotiating away any good this bill might do
just to push through something, anything? And, is it too much to ask
that the reform effort not be used to further restrict women's access
to abortion care?

The answers to these questions aren't written in stone yet, so
there's still hope. But I can't say I'm proud of our government or the
legislative process right now.

Back in 1974, the National Organization for Women addressed the need
for "a national health insurance plan which would provide quality
health care for all," and in 1993 we called for a single-payer health
care program, stating that "health care is a right, not a privilege."
Since the 1970s, NOW has fought against the shameful Hyde Amendment,
which blocks federal coverage of abortion care for low-income women.

Here we are in the last days of 2009, watching as our
representatives deliberate, obfuscate and hesitate. When the House
snuck the anti-abortion Stupak-Pitts Amendment into its version of the
health care bill, women's rights activists were outraged. Our vocal
opposition helped defeat a similar amendment from Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
in the Senate. But Nelson can't take a hint and continues to insist
that the bill be modified to meet his demands.

NOW calls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to refuse to
make any deals to appease Nelson or the Catholic Bishops or anyone else
seeking to turn the health care bill into an anti-abortion vehicle.
Women will be outright cheated if they are denied coverage for the full
range of reproductive health services. Sen. Reid: If you think Ben
Nelson's cranky, just think how millions of women are going to feel if
you let them down.

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.