NOW Official: Abortion-Rights Groups ‘Extremely Disappointed’ in Pelosi; Will ‘Absolutely’ be Tracking Final Vote

Nov 11, 2009 2:21pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Abortion-rights groups say they were blindsided by the last-minute deal that wound up adding new abortion restrictions in the health care bill — and are serving notice that they won’t let that happen again. On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Erin Matson, action vice president of the National Organization for Women, said the fact that Rep. Bart Stupak’s, D-Mich., amendment came to the House floor “came as a shock” to her group and others. “Frankly, everyone was stunned by this,” Matson said. “We did not expect this would be part of the health care bill. We had been mobilizing our members for weeks and weeks in advance to try and stop this, and all of a sudden in lands in the bill.” She added: “I don’t think we consider Nancy Pelosi an anti-choice Democrat, but we’re extremely disappointed that this went to the floor.” Asked if — if the Stupak amendment is in the final version — the health care bill will be part of NOW’s annual “scoring” of how members of Congress vote on abortion-related legislation, Matson was unequivocal, as well as graphic: “Well, absolutely. But you know what? I’m not concerned about Blue Dog Democrats or other Democrats. What I’m really concerned about are women are college campuses who are missing their periods.” Matson also pushed back against former President Bill Clinton’s contention — as articulated yesterday in a meeting with Democratic senators — that “the worst thing we can do is nothing.” “I do not agree with that at all,” she said. “The notion that we should sacrifice our rights as women for the greater good is absolutely a false choice.” Yesterday, NOW President Terry O’Neill told ABC’s Jake Tapper that the House-passed bill would “achieve that goal [of passing health care reform] by pushing women back into the back alleys to die.” (O’Neill was originally scheduled to be our guest on “Top Line,” but she was unable to join because of a meeting at the White House with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.) Matson said NOW and others need to make their case quickly because “things are moving at an incredibly fast clip right now.” “I’m 29,” she said. “I never thought I would make a sign that says, ‘my body, my money, my choice.’ What we have for the first time is an attempt to bar women from using their own private funds, with private insurance companies, from accessing abortion.” Watch the full interview with Erin Matson HERE. We also checked in with Christina Bellantoni of Talking Points Memo about how Senate leaders are sorting out complicated abortion and health care politics, and about grass-roots efforts to press members of Congress into action.
You can watch the discussion with Christina Bellantoni HERE.
We also played a piece of the latest “Subway Series” interview conducted by ABC’s Jonathan Karl, where Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., suggests he’d be willing to join a GOP filibuster of a bill that looks like the one passed by the House. You can watch the full segment with Sen. Nelson HERE.

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