Saturday, November 21, 2009

National NOW PAC Endorses Lois Herr for the PA 16th Congressional District

This morning (November 21, 2009) Pennsylvania NOW, National NOW, and Planned Parenthood PA Advocates held a protest rally against Rep. Joe Pitts for co-authoring the Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health care reform bill that passed in the US House of Representatives on Nov. 7, 2009.  During the rally, the National NOW PAC announced their endorsement of Lois Herr for this seat.  The following are the speeches/statements made by Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President of Pennsylvania NOW, Inc. and Terry O'Neill, Chair of the National NOW PAC at this protest/endorsement rally.

But first, check out the Lancaster News video to see parts of Terry's and Lois' speeches. Note: I'm new at embedding videos into blogs. This one may not immediately start. Once you click on the video you may see a message that says, "This video is a duplicate of a previously loaded video." If you see this message,go to the thumbnails at the bottom of the video and click on the thumbnail entitled "Tense Time at Protest Against Stupak-Pitts". Then you will be able to see the speeches.

Now here's Joanne Tosti-Vasey's speech...

WEST CHESTER, PA, NOVEMBER 21, 2009: We are here today to express our outrage and anger at Joe Pitts for co-authoring an amendment to the health care reform. Rather than expanding health care coverage to all, Pitts’ amendment is clearly designed to deny full, lawful reproductive health care to half of the population.

On November 7th, the US House of Representatives passed HR 3962, their weakened version of health care reform. This bill took three blows against true health care reform prior to final passage. First, they weakened the public option to a public exchange program. Then they eliminated the Kucinich amendment that allows states to craft their own single-payer health care plans (which PA is now considering). Finally, the House trashed health care for women by including the Stupak-Pitts amendment.
The Stupak-Pitts amendment was co-authored by one the members of the PA Congressional delegation – Joe Pitts – who lives here in Chester County. This amendment denies access to abortion services to most women in the United States. Under this amendment, a woman will be denied abortion coverage in her health insurance plan if she either uses the "public option" OR if she receives any subsidy whatsoever to purchase health insurance from private insurers.

In addition, even if just one woman in the group plan uses a subsidy, every woman in that private health care insurance plan will be denied abortion coverage. Why? Because this amendment states that no plan can include abortion services if any one person receives a subsidy.

So now ALL lower- and middle-class women will be completely denied access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care. BTW, this restriction may also include access to emergency contraception and other forms of birth control because of how the right wing defines abortion.

Unfortunately 13 of Joe Pitt’s colleagues from Pennsylvania also voted for this amendment. The votes of these 14 Representatives are, in our opinion, a vote to once again send women to the back alleys for an abortion.

There were only five PA Representatives who voted against this amendment. Pennsylvania NOW would like to publicly thank these five members of Congress for standing up for comprehensive health care and for the lives of women. They are:

Rep. Bob Brady (D) PA 1
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) PA 2
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) PA 8
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) PA 13
Rep. Joe Sestak (D) PA 7

We are outraged at this attempt by Joe Pitts to deny women full, lawful, and comprehensive health care.

Joe Pitts, you are out of touch with reality. You are continuing to use your religion and voting power to hurt women and families throughout the 16th Congressional District as well as people across the entire country.

We will remember in November 2010! Joe Pitts, one of these ways that we will remember is by working very hard to replace you in Congress. With the help of all of the people present here today as well as with the help of NOW and people throughout the district, we will hand you your pink slip on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 when the voters in the 16th Congressional District hire my friend and mentor, Lois Herr to replace you.
And for more on this, I’d like to now introduce Terry O’Neill, the national president of the National Organization for Women.

And here's Terry O'Neill's endorsement statement...
The National Organization for Women Political Action Committee is proud to announce our endorsement of Lois Herr for Congress in Pennsylvania's 16th District. Lois is taking on the all-important challenge of unseating Rep. Joe Pitts, co-author of the outrageous Stupak-Pitts Amendment. Lois rightly called this amendment "a direct attack on the freedom and privacy of American women."

Thanks in large part to Pitts' efforts, the House's version of health care reform now stands as the greatest threat to women's fundamental right to abortion in decades. That's why we're here today on Joe Pitts' home turf -- not only to express outrage at his actions but also to demonstrate our commitment to getting Lois Herr elected in this district next November.

Lois is dedicated to providing affordable health care to every person in the United States, but not at the expense of women's access to reproductive health services. She is a longtime NOW member and a strong supporter of constitutional equality, equal pay, affirmative action, equal marriage rights and the full range of feminist issues. Lois understands the hurdles that women face every day in this country, and when we send her to Capitol Hill, she will work to improve the lives of women and girls.

We have a battle ahead of us, but I am confident that the people of Pennsylvania's 16th District will see the light. The current health care debate has revealed the cynical side of law-making and exposed those legislators who are only too willing to throw women overboard for the sake of political expediency. To those like Joe Pitts, I say: if women's rights aren't safe when you're in office, then we'll just have to replace you. And I can't think of a better candidate to take your seat than Lois Herr.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NOW to Rally in Pitts' Pennsylvania District to Denounce Stupak-Pitts Amendment

"Once again, women's reproductive rights are under attack in this country," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "Anti-choice legislators are using health care reform as an opportunity to further restrict women's access to abortion. One such plunderer is Pennsylvania Representative Joseph Pitts, who co-authored an amendment to deny millions of women abortion coverage, and then when the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed, Pitts voted against the main bill anyway."

O'Neill continued: "Thanks in large part to Pitts' efforts, the House's version of health care reform now stands as the greatest threat to women's fundamental right to abortion in decades. That's why NOW and our allies will protest on Representative Pitts' home turf this Saturday."

Event: Press Conference/Rally to Denounce Stupak-Pitts Amendment to House Health Care Bill
Organizers: National Organization for Women
                    Pennsylvania NOW
                    Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania
Speakers: Terry O'Neill, NOW president
                  Joanne Tosti-Vasey, Pennsylvania NOW president
                  Lois Herr, Congressional candidate, Pennsylvania's 16th District
                  Louise Williams, President, Lancaster City Council
                  Barbara McIlvaine Smith, Representative, Pennsylvnania House of Representatives
                  Others in process
Date/Time: Saturday, Nov. 21, 10:15 am - 11:30 am
Location: Chester County Courthouse, 2 North High St., West Chester, Penn. 19380
Parking:  Available at 20 S. High St., West Chester, Penn. 19380

"NOW is working overtime to ensure that an amendment similar to Stupak-Pitts is not included in the Senate's version of health care reform or the final bill," said O'Neill. "But it's also critical that we send a message to those who initiated this attack: We will not go back and we will remember."

You can contact either Mai Shiozaki, Press Secretary at the National NOW Action Center (202-628-8669, ext. 116, c. 202-641-1906, or or Joanne Tosti-Vasey, President Pennsylvania NOW (814-280-8571,

Sunday, November 8, 2009


NOW members are outraged at the passage of the Stupak amendment to the House version of the Health Care Reform bill.  This is a message from Kathleen Wilson, Vice-President of Pennsylania NOW to Barack Obama on the passage of the non-health care reform bill....

I am VERY disappointed and OUTRAGED that you want me to consider the most devastating piece of legislation suppressing women's lives as a victory?? You cannot pee on me and then tell me it is raining!! You will never get another penny, or work hour out of me ever again!!! This legislation outlawing reproductive freedom and personal responsibility in the 21st [Century] is criminal!! The fact that you chose to ignore the consequences of this legislation reveals your complicity in this misogynistic act!!

We Were Sold Down the River

Last night, the US House of Representative passed HR 3962, the so-called Health Care Reform bill. During the floor debate, Speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed a successful vote on Rep. Stupak's amendment to deny any woman access to abortion coverage.  This means that any woman will be denied abortion coverage in her health insurance plan if she either uses the "public option" OR if she receives any subsidy whatsoever to purchase health insurance from private insurers.  So now lower and middle-class women will ALL be completely denied access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care.  Which may also include access to emergency contraception and other forms of birth control.

Here is how the PA Congressional House delegation voted on this amendment.  Fourteen Pennsylvania Representatives, including 7 D's and all 7 R's, voted against women's reproductive health and only 5 D's stood up for women's rights.

Yes Votes (i.e., Votes for Stupak Amendment and AGAINST Women's Health)

Jason Altmire       (D) PA 4
Christopher Carney  (D) PA 10
Mike Doyle          (D) PA 14
Charlie Dent        (R) PA 15
Kathy Dahlkemper    (D) PA 3  (and co-sponsor of amendment)
Jim Gerlach         (R) PA 6
Tim Holden          (D) PA 17
Paul Kanjorski      (D) PA 11
John P. Murtha      (D) PA 12
Tim Murphy          (R) PA 18
Joe Pitts           (R) PA 16 (Primary Republican Co-sponsor)
Todd R. Platts      (R) PA 19
Bill Shuster        (R) PA 9
Glenn Thompson      (R) PA 5

NO VOTES (Votes in Support of Women's Reproductive Health)

Robert a. Brady     (D) PA 1
Chaka Fattah        (D) PA 2
Patrick J. Murphy   (D) PA 8
Allyson Y. Schwartz (D) PA 13
Joe Sestak          (D) PA 7

This was the third blow to what could have been true health care reform.  The first blow was a weakening of the public option to an insurance "exchange program" that continues to keep insurance companies in power over our health care.  The second blow was the removal of Kucinich's amendment allowing states to craft their own single-payer plan.  And now this!


I just emailed the White House with this message:
Yesterday, the House passed HR 3962.  In the process, Pelosi allowed Stupak to offer his anti-abortion amendment knowing that the majority of the house is anti-woman and anti- comprehensive health care for women!
YOU SOLD US DOWN THE RIVER! We will no longer support this bill in its current format! Not only does it deny women access to full reproductive health care, it’s public option is weak, and there is no clause in it allowing states to create single-payer plans.
What could have been an excellent plan is now just a shill for the extreme right wing and the insurance industry!

Unless you come out and clearly state that you will keep your campaign promise and protect women’s reproductive rights by vetoing the entire bill if the Stupak amendment remains within the bill and call for a much stronger public option (NOT an “Exchange Program”), we will oppose this non-reform bill.
We must stand up for a truly comprehensive health care reform law.  One that includes single-payer, Medicare for All and that is truly comprehensive health care for all. One that includes full reproductive health care and doesn't deny coverage to anyone based on pre-existing conditions, evidence of domestic violence, age, sex, race, national origin, disability, immigrant status, or ability to pay.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Isn't Health Care

Last week, a long-time NOW member and friend received an e-mail titled, “Women must have real health insurance reform now.” She forwarded it to me with the following comment:

“Insurance reform? Who’s drinking the (i)nsurance compan(ies)’ Kool- Aid? Health insurance reform is another name for a gigantic taxpayer donation to the health care insurance corporations like the taxpayer donation to the too-big-to-fail financial institutions.”
PA NOW agrees with our sister and disgrees with the subject line of the original emiail. We don't need health insurance reform. What we need is single-payer health care. This is the form of health care that the National Organization for Women has been advocating for since 1993 when NOW passed a national resolution supporting it.

I, like many people, am a victim and survivor of our broken health care system. I had to fight with my and my twin sister’s insurance companies to reverse a denial of transplant donor coverage in order for me to have a bone marrow transplant. Then I dealt with 30 companies rejecting me for health insurance coverage for a pre-existing condition. And whenever our family now refills my son’s asthma medication, the pharmacist fights with coordinating two health insurance companies to get them to fill the prescription because one requires generic and the other requires a brand name medication.

This isn’t health care. This is the Kool-Aid that the insurance companies are feeding us. Let’s get rid of this Kool-Aid in Pennsylvania and in the U.S. Pass HB 1660/SB 400 in the state and HR 676 in Congress so that we can have comprehensive single-payer coverage for all.

Call and write your legislators to support, sponsor and vote for a Medicare-for-All kind of bill.  In PA that's HB 1660 and SB 400.  In Congress that HR 676 as well as the amendment in the general health care bill that allows states to create their own single-payer system.

-Revised from a speech on Single-Payer Health Care given in the Capital Rotunda on Tuesday, October 20 in Harrisburg as part of the Health Care for All Rally.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

PA NOW Convention

The 2009 bienniel PA NOW Convention will be held on Friday-Sunday, December 4-6, 2009 at the NittanyLion Inn, State College. More information will soon be available on the Pennsylvania NOW website.

Our Featured and Keynote Speakers are:
Saturday: December 5, 2009
  • Latifa Lyles, Former National NOW Vice-President Membership
  • Justice Cynthia Baldwin (tentative)
Sunday: December 6, 2009
  • Rep. Joe Sestak (D) and candidate for the US Senate
We are also seeking workshop proposals for Saturday, December 5, 2009.
The deadline for submission is October 1, 2009

NOW invites all members and interested persons to submit a workshop proposal for the 2009 Pennsylvania NOW Convention, which will take place in State College, PA at the Nittany Lion Inn. All workshops will be held on Saturday, December 4, 2009.

Proposals that are most likely to be accepted will be relevant, timely, and have an action component. They should be directly related to at least one of the following broad issue topics:

  • Economic Justice - with a focus on pay equity, women and work in this new economy, helping women escape poverty, or promoting education equity and economic justice.
  • Health Care - including single-payer reform, health and health care disparities, reproductive justice and rights, emerging health care technologies, and environmental impact on women's health including global women's health.
  • Winning Rights for All Women: including turning back anti-LBTQ measures, affirmative action, growing and networking a global movement, work & family balance, what's next for the women and girls with disabilities, achieving fair immigration reform.
  • Ending Violence - including sexual and domestic assault and battering, stalking, date rape, sexual assault in the military, prevention strategies.
  • Legal/Legislative - examples include strategies for judicial selection, the courts (family law, divorce and custody), winning fair pay laws.
  • Political Skills- Proposals should focus on election-related skills, such as running for office, identifying good candidates, fundraising and the like, but could include broader political analysis and future strategies.
  • Organizing - with a focus on proven programs to grow the women's movement, recruiting new voices and activists, increasing the racial and ethnic diversity at every level, organizing and mobilizing for social justice, and the technology explosion and its impact on national advocacy and grassroots organizing.

For further information and a complete proposal application form, please contact Pennsylvania NOW at  Put "Workshop Proposal" in the subject line.  Thanks1