"Do-or-die moment" for abortion coverage

Take action today for women's healthcare reform

Published November 4, 2009 4:05PM (EST)

Today is Women's Day of Action for Healthcare Reform, sponsored by the National Women's Law Center and many allies. Turns out  it's also the day a vote on the 1,900-page House proposal (PDF) may be in sight. "Americans are ready for comprehensive health insurance reform and the House will soon act," Nancy Pelosi said in a statement last night accompanying many last-minute changes to the bill. "Publication of the changes started a 72-hour legislative clock, meaning that a floor vote could take place as early as Saturday," the AP reported. "But with no Republican backing for the measure, Democrats will need overwhelming support from their own. A festering intra-party disagreement over how to prevent federal funds from being used to pay for abortion remained unresolved Wednesday morning."

Oh yeah. That. Long story short, there's the Stupak amendment, which hardcore abortion opponents love, and there's the Ellsworth-DeLauro "compromise" amendment, which everybody hates.

Women's and abortion-rights advocates have pretty much had it up to here with “compromise.” "This is a do-or-die moment in the battle over abortion coverage," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. "Either the House Leadership can cave to the demands of the anti-choice lobby -- intent on exploiting the divisions over abortion within the Democratic Party -- or take a principled stand against these political machinations. While anti-choice lawmakers opportunistically move to extend the already punishing federal funding for abortion restrictions into the private market, American women have given more than enough in the spirit of compromise. More deep slices from the half-a-loaf already given to American women would be intolerable.

"Abortion is a constitutionally protected medical procedure that one in three women will have in their lifetime. Yet the abortion-neutral language negotiated into both House and Senate bills amounts to a promise to women with a 'no-guarantee' clause. While an honest and credible attempt to defuse the debate over abortion, the compromise potentially leaves millions of women under the new system without even the option of abortion coverage.

 "American women cannot afford to give any more ground on healthcare. And House Leadership cannot afford to renege on their responsibility to protect women's rights and health."

So hound your reps today. If you're in D.C., head over to Dupont Circle with your healthcare nightmare story for an all-day vigil. This should get you going:

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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