Capitol Hill Event Includes Hundreds of Planned Parenthood Advocates, Members of Congress, and Health Care Leaders
Washington, DC — Hundreds of Planned Parenthood advocates traveled from across the country to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, December 2, to participate in a Stop the Abortion Coverage Ban event. They joined members of Congress, youth advocates, patients, health care providers, students, and religious, progressive, Latina and African-American leaders at the event, part of the Coalition to Pass Health Care Reform and Stop Stupak! DC Lobby Day.
The timing of the DC Lobby Day coincides with news that Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are planning to introduce an amendment on the Senate floor that is nearly identical to the Stupak amendment, which goes beyond the provisions of the Hyde Amendment and would effectively ban private health insurance coverage of abortion for millions of women.
The coalition, representing a broad group of progressive and women’s health organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), is sending a strong message to Congress that the anti-choice Stupak amendment and others like it must not be included in the final health care reform legislation. Specifically, the coalition is working to ensure that health care reform is passed and does not restrict women’s ability to purchase health insurance that covers comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care. The DC Lobby Day is part of the coalition’s National Week of Action, from Monday, November 30, through Sunday, December 6.
“More than 60 organizations, representing millions of women and families across the country have joined together to tell Congress that we want meaningful health care reform that gives everyone access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance without restrictions on women’s health care,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “The American people do not want health care reform that makes women worse off than they are now, and today they came by planes, trains, and buses to deliver that message.”
Planned Parenthood leaders and supporters from 30 states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, came to Washington, DC, today to meet with their members of Congress and urge them to oppose the anti-choice Stupak amendment and others like it. Clergy members representing PPFA across eight states joined the event.
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC, Medical Director Dr. Willie Parker spoke at the event about the potential impact of Stupak amendment.
“If we allow an amendment like Stupak to be included in health care reform, women will suffer,” he said. “Insurance companies will almost certainly choose not to cover abortion, and women with complex medical situations will be left with very few options. I’ve seen this happen under the current system, and it is devastating for women facing extraordinarily difficult situations in the first place.”
As CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio, Tara Broderick represents thousands of women who would benefit greatly from meaningful health care reform. “Every day we see women and families in need of affordable health care,” Broderick said. “They want the ability to purchase the health insurance they think is best for them and their families, and that includes comprehensive reproductive health care.”
Planned Parenthood affiliates throughout the country held events in their local communities and online. Supporters organized mobile phone banks, gathered petition signatures, and held in-district meetings with legislators. Activists representing PPFA on more than 70 college campuses in 31 states and the District of Columbia held events during the National Week of Action to raise awareness about the abortion coverage ban.
In addition to those who traveled to DC or held events in their hometowns, more than 110,000 people have signed an online petition, which will be sent to President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker Pelosi, encouraging them to protect women’s health and reject the Stupak amendment and others like it.
Also, during the National Week of Action, daytime television actors Bree Williamson from One Life to Live and Heather Tom from The Bold and the Beautiful will host gatherings in New York and Los Angeles encouraging fans and supporters to sign Planned Parenthood’s petition opposing the Stupak amendment.
The Stupak amendment, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 7, would, if enacted, effectively prohibit millions of women from purchasing health insurance that provides comprehensive reproductive health care benefits even if they pay 100 percent of the premium with their own money. The result would be nothing less than an unacceptable ban on abortion coverage. If this bill becomes the law of the land, millions of American women will effectively be prohibited from purchasing insurance that covers abortion through the new “exchange” or marketplace to be established under health care reform. The Stupak amendment is a radical proposal that upends current law on abortion coverage in the United States. It goes far beyond the Hyde Amendment, which has unfairly prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion in most cases for more than 30 years. The Stupak amendment goes beyond Hyde because it would restrict abortion coverage by private health insurance plans in the exchange in an unprecedented manner.
Since passage of the House health care reform bill, some members of the House who voted for the Stupak ban have expressed their concerns about this amendment. Moreover, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not include the Stupak language in the health care reform bill he introduced on November 19, and President Obama has indicated that the amendment goes too far.
May 14, 2014