(CNSNews.com) – Rev. Carlton Veazey, president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, told a small crowd of pro-abortion protesters that women have a “God-given right” to abortion and that opposition from pro-life congressmen and religious leaders would never take it away.
Veazey, closing speaker at a “Stop Stupak” rally on Capitol Hill staged by major pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL-Pro Choice, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) told the crowd that not only did they have a constitutional right to abortion, but that they had a God-given one as well.
“Don’t let anybody tell you that religious people don’t support choice,” Veazey said at the gathering in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. “You not only have a constitutional right for abortion, but you have a God-given right.”
The rally was held to inspire abortion rights protesters ahead of a day of lobbying for federal funding of abortion in health care reform legislation. The event also served as an outlet for the activists to vent anger at the amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) to the House health care bill.
The amendment prohibits any federal money from paying for any part of a health insurance plan that covers abortion and was successfully attached to the House bill in a bipartisan vote.
Pro-abortion members of Congress also attended the rally. They urged attendees to lobby hard against the Stupak amendment to have it stripped from a final version of the bill.
“Make no mistake, the Stupak amendment does not reaffirm existing law – it goes way past it,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). “It disallows private insurers who operate in the new exchange from covering abortion services in plans receiving government subsidies.”
Calling the Stupak amendment “a stain,” DeLauro said that pro-abortion activists must make legislators “feel your wrath” if abortion coverage is to be preserved.
“So we all have a role to play in doing right by America’s women and making sure comprehensive health insurance reform finally gets passed,” DeLauro said. “But I am confident we will get there again, and that the Affordable Health Care for America Act will become the law of the land, without the stain of Stupak/Pitts.” (The Stupak amendment was co-written with Republican Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania.)
“So make your voices heard!” said DeLauro. “Those Members who are pro-choice and who voted for Stupak should feel your wrath. Those who could not find their way clear to vote for health care, for whatever reason, should feel your wrath too.”
Protesters also took on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), whose lobbying efforts were essential in passing the Stupak amendment, and which earned the ire of pro-abortion protesters.
DeLauro attacked the bishops, saying the organization’s lobbying effort may jeopardize its tax-exempt status. She also described the lobbying as “dubious.”
“As we have worked to secure this groundbreaking legislation, it was never our intention to make abortion part of the health care debate,” she said. “And, in fact, when the issue arose in the Energy and Commerce Committee, pro-choice and pro-life members came together around a compromise that ratified existing law.
“But sadly, the Conference of Catholic Bishops had other ideas,” said DeLauro. “They chose to hold comprehensive health care reform hostage to the abortion issue. In doing so, they not only used a dubious rationale that puts even their own federal funding at risk. They failed their fundamental obligation to help the poor and heal the sick.”
Veazy was even more direct, saying that protesters were there to “take on” the USCCB.
“We are also here to call out the U.S. Conference of [Catholic] Bishops, because no one religion, no theological perspective should get the kind of weight that they can [to] put pressure on the Congress,” he said.
“Hold the whole Congress up and say, ‘If we don’t get our way, we will work against health reform,’” said Veazy. “We in the religious community resent that. We believe that no religion should carry that kind of weight in legislation.”
Veazy reassured the crowd that the Stupak amendment would “not make it,” because “right will always win.”
“Stupak will not make it,” said Veazy. “I want you to go leave this place knowing that right will always win, and we are going to win Stupak.”