An Open Letter to President Obama


VIDEO: Moving Reproductive Rights Forward

President Obama, you made a promise to the women of the United States last year on the campaign trail. We urge you to fulfill that promise.

Dear President Obama:

You made a promise to the women of the United States last year on the campaign trail—and just a few weeks ago, you said it again:

“As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, you’ve got a president who’s going to be right there with you fighting every step of the way.”

Mr. President, I’m writing today to urge you to fulfill that promise.

I’m writing as president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and on behalf of reproductive rights and justice advocates nationwide.

I’m writing on behalf of the reproductive health care providers across the country who are being harassed, intimidated, and even forced to close their doors by legislative assaults aimed at choking off access to safe, legal, affordable care—and on behalf of the millions of women who are being denied their constitutional right to make their own decisions about their health, their families, and their future.

And I’m writing on behalf of the more than 200,000 Americans who have signed a Bill of Reproductive Rights making clear that reproductive freedom is a fundamental human right—and that we are drawing the line against the hostility, the cruelty, and the devious and devastating tactics of those who seek to take our rights away.

You have signaled your support for our ideals and objectives many times, and we thank you for the efforts you have made to bring about progress on some vital matters of reproductive health. The passage of the Affordable Care Act—and the establishment of rules requiring co-payment-free coverage of preventive health services for women—will expand affordable access to family planning, prenatal and maternal care, and routine reproductive health check-ups to millions. Beyond our borders, rescinding the Global Gag Rule and restoring funding to the United Nations Population Fund demonstrated our nation’s commitment to ensuring access to essential reproductive health services for women worldwide.

But the fact remains that, as a result of decades of withering and relentless attacks on the very rights for which Roe v. Wade recognized constitutional protection, the ability of millions of American women to obtain the full range of essential reproductive health care is in terrible peril.

The rights of women—and their ability to exercise them—now depend on where they live, and whether their state legislatures have been overrun by politicians hostile to women, doctors, and the rights of both. This is a crisis of constitutional proportions. Action by the federal government is needed right now.

With your historic second term has come an historic opportunity to move reproductive rights forward—to stand up against those who seek to put women down, and to draw the line against those bent on sending women’s rights hurtling back into the past.

We are counting on you to seize that opportunity.

There are, of course, many fronts on which progress must be made and maintained. We need you to:

  • Continue to push for the broad expansion of affordable access to the full range of essential reproductive health services through the Affordable Care Act and other means—and to hold the line against attempts to thwart this progress through refusals on the grounds of personal and religious belief.
  • Prioritize the appointment of judges to the federal bench who will uphold the constitutional protections due the full and free exercise of women’s reproductive rights.
  • Support the provision of comprehensive and accurate sex education in our public schools, improvements in prenatal and maternal care, the expansion of support for families in need, and other services that will benefit women and their families throughout their lives.

Critically, we are counting on you to bring the full weight of your administration’s authority to bear in opposing legislative and other assaults aimed at rolling back reproductive rights—and to support and advance proactive measures to improve access to and coverage of abortion services and other essential reproductive health care nationwide.

The federal government must ensure that the fundamental rights of all people are respected and protected, regardless of where they live. There is perhaps no other fundamental right that is under more ferocious attack than the right of reproductive choice—and we need you to help us fight back now.

Mr. President, you have asked for the trust and the support of women and reproductive rights advocates, and we have given it enthusiastically. Now we trust that you will fulfill both the promises you have made and the historic opportunity before you.

You will have our full support as you do, and we look forward to working with you—and fighting alongside you—every step of the way.

Nancy Northup
President and CEO
Center for Reproductive Rights

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