National Organization for Women opposes Senate health bill

A leading women's group called on senators on Saturday to defeat its healthcare reform bill.

The leader of the National Organization for Women (NOW) excoriated the language in the health bill curtailing federal support for insurance plan covering abortions, which was inserted to win the 60th vote of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

"The so-called health care reform bill now before the Senate, with the addition of Majority Leader Harry Reid's Manager's Amendment, amounts to a health insurance bill for half the population and a sweeping anti-abortion law for the rest of us," NOW President Terry O'Neill said in a statement.

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"We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women's rights to reject the Manager's Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation," O'Neill added.

The feminist group, founded in 1966, has been a longtime advocate of abortion rights, an issue that has been central to the healthcare debate in the House and the Senate.

The compromise to win Nelson's vote was included in the manager's amendment to the Senate bill, which was released by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this morning. The compromise measure seeks to segregate federal funds from going to subsidize plans covering abortion.

By contrast, groups and lawmakers opposing abortion rights have blasted the Senate bill as falling well short of protecting against federal funding for abortion.

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