Louise Melling,
Deputy Legal Director and Director of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Center for Liberty,
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December 3, 2009

I’m back in New York after an action-packed, anti-Stupak day at the capitol. It was exhilarating — buses from all over, from Mississippi and Wisconsin and Maine; an overflow crowd at the noon rally (did you catch I said overflow!); and a parade of representatives and senators – Sens. Boxer and Murray, and Reps. DeGette, Nadler, Maloney, Capps, Lowey, Edwards, Harman, Slaughter, and DeLauro among others.

Sondra Goldschein, Director of State Advocacy, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Megan Evans, President-elect, Medical Students for Choice; and Allie Bohm, Legislative Assistant, at the Stop Stupak Lobby Day on Capitol Hill.

And over and over, it was a reminder that every day needs to be anti-Stupak day, in full force, if we are to win. And win we must.

I joined a group of college students from the University of Connecticut in a meeting with Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents the district that includes my hometown of 1,000. It’s democratic territory. The congressman did the right thing. He voted against Stupak. He voted for health care reform. He is pro-choice.

The meeting was a wake-up call. He said he has received many calls in support of Stupak and that, until recently, it would seem that our adversaries have been dominating the public conversation as well. It’s their voices in the letters to the editors and on the radio — and with effect. He told of visiting seniors, where he expected to face a raft of questions about the impact of health care on Medicare. This surprised me. The seniors were as concerned about the prospect of public funding being used for abortion as they were about Medicare.

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, speaks at the Stop Stupak Day of Action rally in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Watch the video of Anthony’s speech >>

We need, he said, to be out there — reaching out to our senators and representatives. We need to tell the White House what we think and what we want in the final bill. We need to let our voices be heard in the media, of all forms.

And we have good reason to raise our voices. We can’t and shouldn’t tolerate further restrictions on abortion coverage. We can’t and shouldn’t tolerate a measure that leaves women worse off than before health care reform. And we surely can’t agree to the Faustian bargain we are being offered — women will make real gains in health care, but only if we throw access to abortion coverage under the bus. We need to get in the drivers’ seat.

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