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Calls Needed in South Dakota: Dangerous Anti-Birth Control Amendment Pending in Senate

Calls Needed in South Dakota:
Dangerous Anti-Birth Control Amendment Pending in Senate

February 16, 2012

Dear :

If your senator is on this list, please call her or him right away:

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) 202-224-6665
Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) 202-224-4041
Tom Carper (D-Del.) 202-224-2441
Bill Nelson (D-Fl.) 202-224-5274
Mary Landreiu (D-La.) 202-224-5824
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) 202-224-5344
Susan Collins (R-Maine) 202-224-2523
Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) 202-224-2043
Bob Casey (D-Pa.) 202-224-6324
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) 202-224-5842
Jim Webb (D-Va.) 202-224-4024

Urge your senator to vote against an amendment being offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow employers and insurance companies to exclude any health care service from coverage based on undefined "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

The vote could happen at any time, and we must persuade more senators to oppose this amendment -- which is aimed at limiting contraception access, but could be used to deny other services, such as HIV/AIDS care, mammograms, STD screenings and treatment, or prenatal care.

If passed into law, the Blunt amendment (Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, S. 1467) would negate Obama administration efforts to have a standard set of covered services in health care plans and to lower overall health care costs by emphasizing prevention (which includes birth control under the new HHS rules). Please call your senator(s) as soon as possible to tell them, "Hands off my birth control!" Talking points and background information follow.

Leave a message in your senator's general voice mail boxes or ask for a staff member who handles health issues and speak with them or leave them a message.

If you get a response indicating that your senator will oppose (or support) the amendment, please send an email message right away with that information to govtrel@now.org. Thanks for any help you can provide.



* I am shocked that the Senate would consider the harmful measure offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would allow any employer or insurance company -- whether religiously affiliated or not -- to deny coverage for any health care service that they object to because of undefined religious beliefs or moral convictions. A majority of voters in recent polls support insurance coverage for contraceptives, and 58 percent of Catholics surveyed support insurance coverage. Please oppose the Blunt amendment.

* As a supporter of the National Organization for Women, I am concerned about the growing number of attacks in Congress and elsewhere on birth control -- which is basic health care that should be available to all women without controversy. The vast majority of U.S. women of reproductive age -- including 99% of all sexually experienced women and 98% of those who identify themselves as Catholic -- have used some method of contraception at some point. Contraceptives are needed not only for birth control purposes, but in many cases for other important health reasons. I hope that you will oppose the Blunt amendment.

* Though I believe that all employers, whether religiously affiliated or not, should be required to include birth control in their employee health care plans, the compromise announced by President Obama relieved religiously affiliated entities from offering or paying for contraceptive coverage, requiring insurers to absorb the cost. As an advocate for women's access to affordable birth control, it is important that women have access to birth control without co-pays and without hassle. The Blunt amendment would overturn this compromise.

* I am asking you to take leadership in opposing the Blunt amendment and any other effort to prevent no-cost insurance coverage of birth control. Millions of women (and men) are counting on you to protect this essential benefit, and I will be watching your vote on this matter.

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Continuing Attacks on Birth Control - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other extremists are expanding their campaign against women's reproductive rights by going all out to restrict birth control. They are not content with the Obama administration's extraordinary accommodations to religiously affiliated organizations -- namely, churches have carte blanche to keep birth control out of their health plans, while for other religious employers the cost of birth control coverage is absorbed entirely by the insurer. Now the bishops and their allies in Congress want all employers to be able to strip birth control from their health plans. That this is happening in a volatile election year is no accident.

Contraceptive Coverage Needed - NOW continues to object strenuously to any exemption from the requirement that all health insurance plans cover contraceptives without co-pays. Birth control is basic preventive health care for women, and withholding it on "religious or moral" grounds violates women's rights to religious freedom, to privacy, and to be free from discriminatory treatment in the workplace.

It is an outrage that in 2012 women should have to fight for health care services used by virtually all women of child-bearing age. The vast majority of U.S. women of reproductive age -- including 99% of all sexually experienced women and 98% of those who identify themselves as Catholic -- have used some method of contraception at some point. And we know that many young women -- including students at Catholic universities -- rely on birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute's analysis of data from the federal government's National Survey of Family Growth: Of women at risk of unintended pregnancy, 88 percent currently use contraceptives, with 87 percent of Catholic women using a method of contraception other than natural family planning.

Extremists' Election Year Political Gambit Will Backfire - Right-wing politicians and religious extremists are trying to make birth control into an election-year wedge issue, but their actions are wildly out of step with the values and attitudes of the people in this country. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute released last week finds that 58 percent of Catholics believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraceptives. A recent survey by Public Policy Polling found 56 percent of voters (women and men) support the requirement for health plans to fully cover birth control.

This information needs to be conveyed to your senators in order to defeat this harmful measure. Please make your calls now; we must gather more solid votes against the Blunt amendment before it goes to the Senate floor to be attached to a must-pass major transportation bill.

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