ST. LOUIS - Pamela Sumners, a national leader in the fight for the reproductive rights of women has warned here that right-wingers are waging an assault on the rights not just of women, but of all workers.
"Some People want to use religion to bully instead of embrace," Sumners, executive director of the NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, told 150 protesters as they rallied outside U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt's office here Feb. 22.
Last week the Republican senator proposed an amendment to President Obama's new Health and Human Services rules, which would give employers and insurance companies the right to exclude any health care service from coverage based on undefined "religious beliefs or moral convictions."
According to Sumners, "This is a war cloaked in religion on birth control, on women's rights and on worker's rights."
Sen. Blunt's amendment, the "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act," is part of a right-wing Republican strategy to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) piece by piece. The right wing measure aims to weaken provisions in the new law that standardize services covered by all health care plans. The ACA is currently lowering health care costs for customers, while promoting preventative care.
"Sen. Blunt's amendment could have dire consequences for women all over Missouri," said Julie Terbrock, from the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition.
"The Senator should protect guaranteed access to preventive health care, including birth control, for his constituencies instead of leading the charge to give insurance companies and employers power to interfere in decisions that should stay between a women and her physician."
Sumners added, "They want to shrink government small enough to fit into your uterus."
Richard Von Glahn, organizing director for the Missouri State Workers' Union (CWA-MSWU) Local 6355, said, "Health decisions should be made by a patient and their doctor, not by the patient's employer or insurance company."
"Sen. Blunt's amendment would endanger Missourian's access to basic, quality, affordable health care - taking important health decisions out of the hands of the person and putting them in the hands of their boss."
According to Von Glahn, "This isn't just a women's rights issue. This is a workers' rights issue. This amendment is a concerted effort to give bosses more and more power over the lives of working people."
The Rev. Rebecca Turner, executive director of Faith Aloud, said, "These politicians seem obsessed with women's bodies. They are abusing their elected powers to enforce state mandated pregnancy and discrimination."
The rally was organized by the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition and NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
Photo: Tony Pecinofsky