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 Womens Rights Coalition, National Dominican Womens Caucus, Radical Women, The World Cant 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 womans 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 womans 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. Schumers statement called for a carefully-worded compromise and no further restrictions on womens right to choose.
Organizers of the rally encouraged participants to march over to St. Peters Cathedral to protest the antiabortion position of Catholic Church officials, which some 20 protestors joined in.
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