(PRESS RELEASE) Today, Senate leadership released the language of the manager's amendment of the healthcare reform bill, including new measures that would require women to pay separately for abortion coverage, one-sided provisions that would protect those who refuse to provide abortions from discrimination but leave vulnerable to discrimination those who choose to provide them, and an invitation to the states to impose further deep restrictions on coverage. Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, had this response:
"We are deeply disappointed that the Senate is kowtowing to the vote of a single Senator by whacking away at women's access to reproductive healthcare. Abortion is a constitutional right, and one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetimes.
"Yet the Senate bill turns a blind eye to this reality, heaping administrative burdens on access to insurance coverage, which will dramatically reduce the likelihood that private insurers will offer coverage. The amendment also includes lopsided conscience clause provisions that may allow exchange administrators to bar plans that provide coverage of abortion services from the exchanges. These punitive measures are unnecessary given the strict segregation of federal dollars already accomplished in the underlying bill and current conscience clause provisions that are far more even-handed.
"Choice supporters, who flocked to Washington in record numbers only weeks ago, are vocally and deeply concerned that healthcare reform not turn back the clock on women's rights. There are no sound policy reasons for this last-minute maneuvering, only the mathematics of the Senate. We will work with the Congress going forward to fix this dubious equation."