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Vote Against 'Hyde on Steroids'   :)

Support NOW's Work | November 13, 2009


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TAKE ACTION: Tell Your Senators to Vote Against 'Hyde on Steroids'

The Senate may be voting on a "Hyde on steroids" amendment similar to Stupak-Pitts that would prevent millions of women from obtaining insurance coverage for abortion under health care reform. Floor debate begins next week, and senators are being pressured to accept this outrageous evisceration of Roe v. Wade in order to get reform legislation passed. It is not acceptable to achieve health care reform by pushing women back to the back alleys. The Senate must not adopt this House-passed amendment that would expand the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding of abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and threat to a woman's life). Please tell your senators Stupak-Pitts is not status quo and it is not okay.

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The Senate will soon begin floor debate on the most important health care legislation (S. 1796) in decades. Women have much to gain from both Senate and House bills, which end insurance industry abuses and extend coverage to millions currently uninsured, but we are not willing to pay for this with an accompanying rollback of women's fundamental and constitutional rights. Several senators who oppose abortion rights are said to be planning to offer an amendment like the sweeping abortion prohibition offered by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.) and adopted by the House on Nov. 7.

Reportedly, Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (R-Penn.) may offer a version of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to be attached to the Senate bill. That means, in all likelihood, if the Senate adopts this harmful amendment, it will remain in the final Senate-House conference bill and become law. Alternatively, a modified variation of Stupak-Pitts could be incorporated into the bill. Either way, millions of women lose -- big time.

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The Stupak-Pitts amendment explained:

The ban on abortion coverage in insurance would apply to both the proposed public option and to private health insurance plans sold in the new regional health insurance exchanges. It is estimated that some 36 million uninsured persons would be purchasing insurance policies through new exchanges and would be eligible for federal affordability subsidies. Health insurers may not sell plans that cover abortion to customers who are paying without a subsidy, if even just one person who is receiving the federal affordability credits (the subsidy) were to purchase a plan. In other words, even if you are paying 100 percent of your insurance costs, abortion coverage would not be available in your plan if anyone with affordability credits joins the same plan. Women may purchase a separate abortion "rider" for coverage, though many doubt that these riders would be offered by the insurance companies.Small companies (fewer than 100 employees) would also likely purchase health insurance through the exchange, but if any of their employees received affordability credits no abortion coverage could be included. Eighty-seven percent of employer-based insurance plans now cover abortion services, but if employers withdraw coverage and send their employees to the health insurance exchanges, those employees would likely lose abortion coverage under these new prohibitions.

There may be a modified version of this harmful amendment that is included in the Senate health care reform bill that will be debated next week. We want to make sure that Stupak-Pitts language is not used and that no variation of this harmful amendment is passed. Please send a message to your senators that you oppose any restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion. Thank you for all the work you do for women's rights.

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