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.