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Call Your Senators to Take a Pledge Against Abortion Ban
Pressure from abortion rights opponents is mounting on senators to adopt a Stupak-like abortion ban for insurance coverage in health care reform legislation. We are asking that you call your senators today to urge them in the strongest way possible to take a pledge against any legislation containing abortion amendments that would make access more restrictive than current law. Please call now AND send email messages to your two senators -- this is the most important action that you can take at this time to defend women's rights.
Be sure to tell your Senators that voting against Stupak-type amendments is not enough. They should pledge to vote against the bill if it contains anti-abortion provisions that go beyond current law.
We are hearing that Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will soon offer restrictive abortion amendments to health care reform legislation as the Senate begins floor debate this week. The Senate bill already codifies the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal money for abortions for low-income women. But that's not enough for some anti-choice senators. Sen. Hatch is expected to introduce an amendment that includes abortion coverage prohibitions like those in the House-passed bill (H.R. 3862), presumably meaning the Stupak-Pitts abortion ban provision.
"Stupak Lite"? Additionally, Sen. Casey and his staff are preparing a provision that "could be more acceptable to abortion-rights opponents but less onerous than Stupak", according to news sources. Casey has said that the language would be a "compromise that might defuse the issue." Casey claims that the Senate bill's segregated accounts system (allowing abortion coverage but paid only with private funds) does not go far enough to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortion. But this so-called compromise would, like Stupak-Pitts, go beyond the codification of the Hyde Amendment.
Either amendment, if adopted, would greatly reduce women's access to abortion care by limiting insurance coverage.
The current Senate bill (S. 1796, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) stipulates that Hyde Amendment restrictions would apply to all public and private insurance plans that participate in the health insurance exchanges. Private premiums could pay for abortion services beyond those allowed by Hyde (which prohibits the use of taxpayer money except in cases of rape, incest and threat to the health of the woman). Private premiums would be segregated from public funds which will be in the form of subsidies to help low and moderate-income persons pay for insurance coverage.
Every vote against restrictive abortion amendments is critically important. It's a safe bet that the more controversial amendments, including those related to abortion will be challenged by a filibuster, requiring 60 votes to overcome. We want to make sure that senators do not vote for any amendment that goes further than the Hyde Amendment; we are asking that they take a pledge to vote against any legislation containing abortion restrictions that go beyond current law.
Your action in urging that senators take a pledge to oppose any abortion restrictions beyond current law could make the difference as to whether the Stupak abortion ban (or a so-called "compromise" variation of it) remains out of the final bill. House Democratic leaders have promised to remove the Stupak Amendment in conference committee when House and Senate members hammer out the final version. So pressure from women's rights activists is essential -- PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW and send an email message.