Religious Activists Tell Congress: Stop Stupak!
Clergy and people of faith affiliated with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice joined hundreds of other reproductive justice advocates and members of Congress for a Stop Stupak! event on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, December 2. The event was part of the Coalition to Pass Health Care Reform and Stop Stupak! DC Lobby Day.
RCRC President Reverend Carlton W. Veazey called on the crowd to stand up for justice and for health care reform without restrictions to services. He urged the advocates to tell their members of Congress to pass health care reform that includes access to the full range of reproductive health services.
Lifting up the ideals of the civil rights movement, he quoted the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Reverend Veazey drew applause when he condemned the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for imposing its theological views on the American people with the Stupak amendment. The bishops conference actively lobbied for the amendment and threatened to kill health care reform legislation unless it included expanded restrictions on coverage of abortion.
amendment is an affront to religious liberty and to the rights of women, he said. As a nation of many diverse faith traditions, he said, we must oppose any attempt to make specific religious doctrine concerning abortion the law for all Americans.
More than 500 supporters from 30 states, including California, Florida, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin traveled to DC to meet with their members of Congress and urge opposition to the Stupak amendment and others like it. Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist clergy and laity met with the staffs of both Virginia senators, John Warner and Jim Webb; with Virginia Congressman Tom Periello, and with Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, as well as other members of Congress.
In a press statement issued for the Stop Stupak Day of Action, Reverend Veazey said: "We – as people of faith – have a special responsibility to bear witness in support of equal access to health care for all. In fact, it is our moral obligation to do so. We are letting it be known that those who support this amendment do not speak for all religious leaders and people of faith. One particular religious belief system must not be imposed on all of us especially at the expense of public health. Women must have the right to apply or reject the principles of their own faith without legal restrictions."
The Lobby Day coincided with news that Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were introducing an amendment on the Senate floor that is nearly identical to the Stupak amendment, which goes beyond the provisions of Hyde and would effectively ban private health insurance coverage of abortion for millions of women.
The Stupak amendment, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on November 7, would, if enacted, effectively prohibit millions of women from using their own money to purchase private health insurance that provides comprehensive reproductive health care benefits. If the amendment is included in health reform legislation that becomes the law of the land, millions of American women will effectively be prohibited from purchasing private insurance that covers abortion through the new “exchange” or marketplace to be established under health care reform. The Stupak ban goes far beyond the Hyde amendment, which has unfairly prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion in most cases for more than 30 years.
Since passage, some members of the House who voted for the Stupak ban have expressed their doubts about this amendment. Moreover, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not include the Stupak language in the health care reform bill he introduced on November 19, and President Obama has indicated that the amendment goes too far.
December 2, 2009