December 8, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WASHINGTON – The Senate voted today to table, thus defeating, an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill that would have imposed severe restrictions on women's access to abortion. The amendment, introduced by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), would have denied women who receive any federal health care subsidy from purchasing an insurance plan on the exchange that covers abortion care even if the premium is largely paid for with private dollars. The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the Senate vote as a victory for women’s rights and ability to make private health care decisions without government interference.
A similar amendment, the Stupak-Pitts amendment, passed in the House last month. Earlier this month, the ACLU helped bring more than 1300 advocates from 30 states to Washington, D.C. to implore Congress to keep the abortion coverage ban out of health care reform legislation. With today’s vote and President Obama signaling that he does not support the Stupak-Pitts language, advocates are hopeful that those abortion restrictions will not be made a part of the final legislation.
The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:
"Today, the Senate voted down a truly cynical and backward amendment. The Nelson-Hatch amendment, like the Stupak-Pitts amendment, was a direct attack on a woman’s right to make private health care decisions. The Senate clearly understands that abortion is a part of basic health care for women and that true health care reform will not live up to its name if it fails to protect a woman’s right to access comprehensive care. Health care reform should improve women’s health and lives, not interfere with their right to get the health care they need. We urge the conference committee to follow the Senate’s lead and keep this abortion coverage ban out of the final health care bill.”