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Vol. 73/No. 49      December 21, 2009

N.Y. rally condemns
attack on abortion rights
NEW YORK—Over 50 supporters of abortion rights rallied here December 4 to protest the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the health “reform” bill, HR 3962. The amendment would ban the use of government funds for abortion procedures, except in the case of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger. It would also prohibit those receiving government health subsidies from buying insurance plans that cover abortions. The bill was passed in a bipartisan House vote of 240-194 November 7. A vote is pending in the Senate.

The rally was called by the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Participants and speakers included members of various NOW chapters, members of the NOW Young Feminists Task Force, Hunter College Women’s Rights Coalition, National Dominican Women’s Caucus, Radical Women, The World Can’t Wait, Socialist Workers Party, and others.

Speaking at the rally, Bill Baird, founder of the Pro-Choice League, described dangerous home-abortion remedies and back-alley procedures that have taken the lives of many. “Never again will women go back to those conditions,” he said.

Erin Matson, action vice president for NOW, addressed the rally, pointing out that the Hyde Amendment is “equally as bad as Stupak-Pitts.” The Hyde Amendment was passed in the mid-1970s and bars Medicaid funding for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of a woman’s life.

Maura DeLuca, who was the Socialist Workers Party candidate for public advocate of New York City in the November elections, also addressed the rally. DeLuca pointed out how the proposed health bill not only attacks a woman’s right to abortion, but working people on a broad scale by excluding undocumented immigrants from coverage and imposing fines on those who do not have health insurance. “We should look to the example of Cuba,” DeLuca said, “where, after workers and farmers overturned the capitalist system, real health care became a lifelong right for all, and where the only illegal abortion is a ‘back-alley’ abortion.”

Several elected officials sent representatives to give statements, including Democrats Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Charles Schumer. Schumer’s statement called for a “carefully-worded compromise” and “no further restrictions on women’s right to choose.”

Organizers of the rally encouraged participants to march over to St. Peter’s Cathedral to protest the antiabortion position of Catholic Church officials, which some 20 protestors joined in.  
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