Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Lose for Nelson: A Win for Women

On December 8th Planned Parenthood along with women across the country celebrated the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch amendment in the Senate. Senator Barbara Boxer motioned to table the amendment and the motion passed with vote of 54-45.The Nelson-Hatch Amendment, proposed by Senators Ben Nelson and Orrin Hatch mirrored the Stupak amendment in the House health care reform bill. Meaning, the amendment would have placed a new restriction on women’s access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market, effectively undermining the ability of millions of women to purchase private health insurance plans that cover abortion care, even if they pay the entire premium with their own money.

I would also like to point out that before Senator Nelson formally proposed his anti-choice amendment he publicly stated he needed more time so the Conference of Catholic Bishops could review the language of the amendment. Um, let’s back up here; a U.S. Senator cannot propose his bill until Catholic Bishops review it? Perhaps Senator Nelson needs to take another look at the First amendment of the U.S. Constitution. You know, that one credited with separation of church and state because the Conference of Catholic Bishops should have no place in formally reviewing the language of any political amendments before they are proposed for legislation.

Thankfully, most of our Senators do not feel the way Senator Nelson does; sixteen Senators spoke out against the bill before it was tabled including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “I think there has been a lot of misinformation about what the Stupak measure does and the level of danger that this kind of sweeping change could pose to women and young girls. … This health care package must move us forward towards quality, affordable health care for all Americans. I ask my colleagues to oppose the Nelson Amendment and any similar measure and I ask that we work together to preserve current law and respect the private choices made between a woman and her doctor.” I highly recommend watching Gillibrand and the 15 other Senators speeches, they put a much needed reality check on the Stupak and Nelson amendments.

Unfortunately the fight is not over yet though, the Stupak amendment is still in the House bill and can still make it into the final bill. Once the Senate passes their form of the health care bill the two bills need to be reconciled and then proposed to the President. So while this week was cause for celebration the fight for women’s reproductive rights still continues. The Stupak amendment continues to be a threat to woman’s reproductive rights and we must remain vigilant in order to make sure that Stupak does not make it into the final bill.

To thank New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer for protecting women’s rights for choice and voting against the Nelson amendment click the following link:

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