Is it too much to ask for health care reform to benefit the people, not the for-profit insurance industry? Is it too much to ask that members of Congress stop negotiating away any good this bill might do just to push through something, anything? And, is it too much to ask that the reform effort not be used to further restrict women’s access to abortion care?
The answers to these questions aren’t written in stone yet, so there’s still hope. But I can’t say I’m proud of our government or the legislative process right now.
Back in 1974, the National Organization for Women addressed the need for “a national health insurance plan which would provide quality health care for all,” and in 1993 we called for a single-payer health care program, stating that “health care is a right, not a privilege.” Since the 1970s, NOW has fought against the shameful Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal coverage of abortion care for low-income women.
Here we are in the last days of 2009, watching as our representatives deliberate, obfuscate and hesitate. When the House snuck the anti-abortion Stupak-Pitts Amendment into its version of the health care bill, women’s rights activists were outraged. Our vocal opposition helped defeat a similar amendment from Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in the Senate. But Nelson can’t take a hint and continues to insist that the bill be modified to meet his demands.
NOW calls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to refuse to make any deals to appease Nelson or the Catholic Bishops or anyone else seeking to turn the health care bill into an anti-abortion vehicle. Women will be outright cheated if they are denied coverage for the full range of reproductive health services. Sen. Reid: If you think Ben Nelson’s cranky, just think how millions of women are going to feel if you let them down.