Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fight Back Against Stupak

Letter from Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal. Keep checking back to our blog for more steps you can take.

Dear feminist activists,

The last 4 days have been an emotional roller coaster! We have fought and continue to fight the hideous Bart Stupak (D-MI)/Joe Pitts (R-PA) Amendment to the House of Representative's Affordable Health Care for America Act. This amendment virtually bans abortion coverage for both the public option and private plans in the to-be-created national health insurance exchange. Women would not even be able to purchase coverage with their own dollars. We lost round one, but this fight is far from over.

We must make it loud and clear to Congress that the Stupak Amendment is not acceptable and must not be used to derail critically needed health care reform.

How quickly joy can turn to outrage.

Women should have had a lot to cheer about Saturday night when the House passed the historic Affordable Health Care Act. Among other major reforms in health insurance, it would eliminate "gender rating" in insurance pricing and unequal taxation of domestic partner benefits, ban discrimination based on preexisting conditions, eliminate exclusion of maternity coverage, stop the practice of dropping or capping coverage for sick people, and extend coverage to 96% of uninsured people.

But our celebration turned to outrage because of the horrific Stupak amendment.

This amendment is a deplorable denial of choice to women, dictated behind the scenes by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and their army of lobbyists. Millions of poor and middle-class women would be denied abortion coverage and millions more would lose the coverage they already have, since 85 percent of private plans now cover abortion. Far from being abortion-neutral, the Stupak amendment is a giant step backward for women's right to choose. It's unacceptable. Let your Senators and members of Congress know.

We are not alone in this fight. Already, more than 40 members of the House, led by Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO), have signed a pledge that they will not vote yes on final passage of the Act if Stupak is not stripped from the bill. Now, as the legislation proceeds to the Senate, Senators and more Representatives must join us in the fight. Every Republican member of the House, except one, and 64 Democrats voted for the Stupak amendment. We must tell them we deplore their opposition to women's rights, obstruction of health reform, and negative politics.

This amendment can be stripped from the Act in conference committee and is currently not on the Senate Act. We can win.

We must stop vitally needed federal legislation from being used as a vehicle to cut back reproductive rights. Young women's lives cannot continue to be a political football. We must free this historic Act of abortion politics--and then we can really celebrate.

For Women's Lives,

Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority

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