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    Posted November 18, 2009 by
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Passions over health care reform

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    Harvard Students Call on Senate to Protect Women’s Reproductive Rights


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     I spoke to PeterWitzler and he told me he was an organizer of this protest about the Stupak-Pitts amendment. He's politically active on campus and studying in Harvard's Kennedy School.
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer


    Over 100 college students called on the Senate to protect women’s access to reproductive health care and oppose the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the Senate health care reform bill. Students from Harvard University, Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School and other area colleges gathered at the Harvard Square T-stop to show their outrage about the rollback of women’s rights the Stupak-Pitts amendment represents.


    “The Stupak-Pitts amendment will restrict access to full reproductive health care services and force women to lose existing coverage. I never thought in my life time I would have to defend the very rights won by my mother and grandmother’s generations,” said Leah Reis-Dennis, Director of Harvard Students for Choice.


    The Stupak-Pitts Amendment, a last-minute add-in to the House's Health Care bill, effectively bans abortion coverage in public AND private plans once carriers buy into the new insurance exchange, going FURTHER than previous anti-abortion insurance measures. The amendment is not a compromise. It will prevent women from buying private plans out-of-pocket--and will remove coverage from millions of women already receiving abortion coverage.


    The coalition of students fully supports health care reform and the original bill that would have maintained the status quo on access to reproductive health services. However, the current bill passed out of the House that includes the Stupak amendment goes beyond the Hyde amendment passed in the 70’s that eliminated federal funding for abortions. “We fully support health care reform. But the Stupak amendment is like Hyde on steroids. We need our Senators to do the right thing and pass a bill that is free from these restrictions on women’s reproductive health.” Said Leah Reis-Dennis.


    Students are using the image of a coat hanger in their visuals and messages for the rally. The image represents the dark history of reproductive health in the US when abortion services were only accessed through underground networks, back alley doctors or home termination kits that put women’s health in jeopardy.


    The event is the launching point for a national campaign to make sure the Senate passes a health care bill free of any restrictions on full reproductive health. The outrage over the amendment is fueling a fire of student activism not seen since the election, and activism on reproductive health not seen on college campuses in years. Similar events are taking place across the country.


    “These students have gone from angry about an issue to taking action and creating a movement in 1 weeks time” said Kim Gandy, former NOW President and long time women’s rights activist.


    "The students are acting on what we all want - reform which will ensure affordable, quality health care for all, including comprehensive reproductive health care for women.  Simply put, this effort is all about passing health care reform this year without the Stupak Amendment." Said Gina Glantz, Chair of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 


    The Stupak-Pitts amendment represents an attempt by a minority in Congress to hijack one of the most important issues of our time for their partisan purposes, win money from contributors and votes for re-election. Stupak-Pitts goes beyond current laws on the books engineered by Republican legislator, the late Henry Hyde (6th-IL). “This is not the time to insert bitter, socially charged partisan politics into the health care debate. This is not the vision that was created by our late, great Senator and Statesman Ted Kennedy, when he started us down this road to reform.” said Peter Witzler, Harvard Kennedy School Student, and member of the StudentsStopStupak.org coalition.

    For more information please visit: www.StudentsStopStupak.org

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