Abortion rights advocates are ratcheting up their pressure on lawmakers to drop the proposal added to the House health care bill that would restrict health insurance coverage for abortions.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is launching an ad campaign today to emphasize that, if the Stupak amendment were to pass in the final health care bill, millions of women could potentially lose the coverage for abortions they currently have in their health care plans.
The group is running an ad online and on cable markets in the Washington area, leading up to the abortion debate that is sure to spring up in the Senate.
The so-called Stupak amendment would prevent women who receive federal subsidies for health insurance from purchasing plans that cover abortion. It would also explicitly ban abortion coverage from the government-run plan, or "public option." It would also essentially prevent private insurers from selling plans on the national health insurance exchange that cover abortion.
In other words, women who intend to use government subsidies for health care costs could be forced to switch plans. Additionally, if a woman's employer were to start offering coverage under the national health insurance exchange, she could potentially have to switch plans.
"Anti-choice forces in Washington are trying to use this important moment of health insurance reform to expand restrictions on abortion coverage in private insurance plans," Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup told CBSNews.com. The extent of the amendment's impact on coverage is surprising, she said.
"People who have terminations in the second trimester because of fetal abnormalities are also not going to be covered, and that's going to be stunning to people," Northup said. "This is a wake up call for pro-choice Americans."
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Abortion rights advocates say the amendment has galvanized their supporters. To prove that, NARAL Pro-Choice America today delivered a petition with 97,218 signatures to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, asking that he leave the Stupak amendment out of the Senate bill. Working with state affiliates and other progressive partners, NARAL collected the signatures in 72 hours.
"America's pro-choice majority is speaking up loudly and clearly," NARAL President Nancy Keenan said in a statement. "As the fight for health reform moves forward, we are making sure Sen. Reid and his colleagues understand that adding the anti-choice Stupak-Pitts language to the Senate bill is not an option."
NARAL is also launching this week a set of automated calls in 17 states that will allow NARAL supporters to connect with their senators with the touch of a button. The organization is also engaging its e-mail network of half a million supporters to rally opposition to the Stupak amendment. NARAL will be communicating with all 100 senators in the upcoming weeks, NARAL Communications Director Ted Miller told CBSNews.com.
Planned Parenthood is also engaging its supporters online, rallying support on progressive blog networks and via social networking. It is planning a national "day of action" for December 2.
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Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.