While House Democrats are hailing President Obama’s executive order on abortion as a breakthrough that will help the final passage of health care reform legislation, at least one group is not happy.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) issued a statement this evening declaring that the group is “incensed” by the move. NOW President Terry O’Neill said in a statement emailed to reporters that Obama’s executive order was “designed to appease a handful of anti-choice Democrats who have held up health care reform in an effort to restrict women’s access to abortion.”
O’Neill accused Obama of trying to “lend the weight of his office and the entire executive branch to the anti-abortion measures included in the Senate bill, which the House is now prepared to pass.”She continued:
President Obama campaigned as a pro-choice president, but his actions today suggest that his commitment to reproductive health care is shaky at best. Contrary to language in the draft of the executive order and repeated assertions in the news, the Hyde Amendment is not settled law — it is an illegitimate tack-on to an annual must-pass appropriations bill. NOW has a longstanding objection to Hyde and, in fact, was looking forward to working with this president and Congress to bring an end to these restrictions. We see now that we have our work cut out for us far beyond what we ever anticipated. The message we have received today is that it is acceptable to negotiate health care on the backs of women, and we couldn’t disagree more.
Late Update: Planned Parenthood issued a disappointed-sounding statement, but is not as tough on Obama as NOW.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said:
We regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an Executive Order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health care reform bill, originally proposed by Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. What the president’s executive order did not do is include the complete and total ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion that Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) had insisted upon. So while we regret that this proposed Executive Order has given the imprimatur of the president to Senator Nelson’s language, we are grateful that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban.
The NARAL statement doesn’t criticize Obama, but instead says the decision is “deeply disappointing.”
On a day when Americans are expected to see passage of legislation that will make health care more affordable for more than 30 million citizens, it is deeply disappointing that Bart Stupak and other anti-choice politicians would demand the restatement of the Hyde amendment, a discriminatory law that blocks low-income women from receiving full reproductive-health care. Today’s action is a stark reminder of why we must repeal this unfair and insulting policy. Achieving this goal means increasing the number of lawmakers in Congress who share our pro-choice values. Otherwise, we will continue to see women’s reproductive rights used as a bargaining chip.