Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued the following statement regarding House passage of the health-care reform package.
"Our mission at NARAL Pro-Choice America is to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. We assessed the health-reform package against these criteria, and determined that, because of the egregious abortion-coverage restrictions, we could not endorse this bill. But, because the measure has other very positive provisions for reproductive health, we couldn’t in good conscience call for the bill’s outright defeat and thus deny millions of American women and men the promise of better—although imperfect—access to health-care services that are important to our pro-choice values.
"The legislation includes an onerous provision that requires Americans to write two separate checks if the insurance plan they choose includes abortion coverage. This unacceptable bureaucratic stigmatization could cause insurance carriers to drop abortion coverage, even though more than 85 percent of private plans currently cover this care for women. Our message to our allies in Congress and in the White House is clear: We do not accept this bill as the final word on how abortion coverage will be defined in the new health-care system. We are committed to finding opportunities to repeal these unacceptable restrictions as the new system takes shape.
"At the same time, we recognize that the bill will bring more than 30 million Americans into a system that includes affordable family-planning services, better access to contraception, and maternity care. It also outlaws some discriminatory insurance-industry practices that make health care more expensive for women. We applaud this tremendous progress, but we will continue to work toward a day when these kinds of achievements can be made without undermining women’s access to abortion coverage. American women should not have to sacrifice their right to choose in order to make progress in other areas of health care.
"This situation is a reminder that, despite significant pro-choice gains in the last two election cycles, anti-choice lawmakers still outnumber our allies. This is precisely the reason that politicians such as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) were able to use women’s reproductive health as a bargaining chip. We call on members of America’s pro-choice majority to channel their anger into action and join us in working to elect more members of Congress who share our pro-choice values."
Cross-posted on Blog for Choice