The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116; cell 202-641-1906

Celebrating 37 Years of Roe v. Wade: NOW Asserts That Abortion Care Is a Human Right

Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill


Today we celebrate the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade,
which recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion.
However, we recognize that in 2010 women's ability to exercise this
basic right is under attack as never before, not only by domestic
terrorism but also in the halls of Congress. Just last summer, Wichita
physician Dr. George Tiller was murdered as he attended church
services, and today his admitted killer is being allowed to make the
novel argument that his heinous act was not murder because he was
driven by religious zeal. In Washington, after months of debate over
health care reform, we find ourselves wondering whether the leadership
in Congress and the president we worked so hard to elect in 2008 will
ultimately stand up to the Catholic Bishops and other extremists bent
on dismantling Roe and reject their demands for sweeping anti-abortion
provisions in the reform bill. More than ever, we must fight for
women's fundamental human right to have access to safe and legal

The names Bart Stupak and Joe Pitts will forever be infamous for
their closed-door collusion with the Catholic Bishops to push through
an amendment to the House health care reform bill that would
effectively choke off all private as well as public insurance coverage
for abortion care. If enacted, this provision would deprive tens of
millions of women of health insurance they currently have, as nearly 90
percent of today's private health insurance policies cover abortion.
NOW and its allies beat back an attempt to put a nearly identical
provision into the Senate health reform bill, only to see a so-called
"compromise" inserted at the insistence of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
The Nelson language is better termed a capitulation, as it produces the
same end result as Stupak-Pitts.

To those who tell us we should be willing to give up abortion rights
in order to get other health care reforms, we respond with a resounding
NO. We will not trade off the rights and needs of some women for the
benefit of others. What kind of government has the temerity to even
suggest that women do so?

On this anniversary, we mourn the beloved Dr. Tiller, who for 33
years courageously defended women's constitutional right to access safe
abortion care. And we express our profound gratitude to other abortion
providers, like Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who has vowed to honor Dr. Tiller's
legacy by expanding the services available to women in his own practice
and opening another clinic that will treat women in need of late-term
abortions. NOW's leaders and activists around the country will continue
to support that mission.

Abortion has once again taken center stage in the current volatile
political landscape. This year we pledge to fiercely resist every
effort to negotiate, manipulate or hold up for sale our reproductive
rights. Neither the bullying of the Catholic Bishops nor the threats of
domestic terrorism will force us to turn back. As Dr. Tiller said,
"Abortion is about women's hopes and dreams. Abortion is a matter of
survival for women." Safe, legal and accessible abortion is a basic
human right of every woman in this country. We claim it, and we will
never give it up.

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.