Thursday, December 24, 2009

Senate Health Care Bill Passes With Unacceptable Restrictions on Women's Rights

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116
Senate Health Care Bill Passes With Unacceptable Restrictions on
Women's Rights; There Is Still Time To Reverse the Damage
Statement of Terry O'Neill, NOW President
December 24, 2009

The U.S. Senate sent a last-minute holiday "gift" which half the
country will find difficult to accept. In a disappointing move that
sets women's reproductive rights back, the U.S. Senate voted on
final passage of its version of health care reform. Last weekend
Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sealed the 60th vote by
caving into Sen. Ben Nelson's (D-Neb.) demands with a
"compromise" that would eventually do away with private
as well as public insurance coverage for abortion care.

This dangerous provision not only further stigmatizes
abortion care but it makes it nearly impossible for any
health plans to offer comprehensive coverage.
Now the bill must be reconciled with the House version,
before being sent to the President's desk.

Is there a chance to fix the bill during that final
conference phase? We are certainly hopeful. Our grassroots
are mobilized and already working to strip the dangerous
language out of the final health reform bill.

Our energies will be focused on the sweeping anti-abortion
provision because it would enshrine into the country's
first-ever comprehensive health care reform legislation
the dangerous principle that women may be singled out
for denial of legal health care.

We are not in the business of trying to ruin the prospects of
health care reform. The bill's elimination of gender rating and
of denial of coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions
are welcome (although we worry about enforcement of these
provisions). On balance, however, this bill harms women.

When a small group of men set out to determine what rights
women can exercise over their own bodies, it's sexism, not
health care. NOW calls on Congress and President Obama
to recognize women's fundamental right to the full range                                      of health care services, including abortion care.

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