Pro-choice groups demand to be heard in the health care debate. Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton says women ought to be demanding equal treatment in any health care reform – and that includes access to abortion. “We want honest health care reform, and stay out of our decision making on medical choices,” Lawton told a rally on the State Street steps of the Capitol in Madison. “Just give us full insurance coverage in the same way that men are given full coverage, no amendments to it.”
A House amendment, authored by Michigan Representative Bart Stupak, prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in subsided plans, even if women use their own money to purchase those plans. “It is unjust, unfair and immoral for a government to abandon the rights of women as human beings equal to men, to barter for the rights of a minority,” said state Representative Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat. The Stupak amendment, charged Chris Taylor with Planned Parenthood Advocates, was the result of political horse trading. “Women’s rights were used as a bargaining chip, and negotiated away by both Democrats and Republicans, to satisfy Catholic bishops,” said Taylor, who also noted that birth control is also opposed by the Catholic church: “don’t think that that’s not going to be next on the list, for rights that are restricted.”
“If I sound like I have a little anger in my voice, it’s because I do,” said Lawton. “I am absolutely sick of women being treated like a special interest group.” The Madison protest and others around the nation took place as a bipartisan group of anti-abortion senators prepared to offer a similar amendment in that chamber. Rally organizers told opponents to contact Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and urge them to oppose any such amendment in the Senate version of health care reform.