You Weren't Elected to Congress to Bargain Our Rights Away and Make Deals

A memo to the Democratic women members of the House and Senate.

TO: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, and Debbie Stabenow, Chair of the Democratic
Steering and Outreach Committee

CC: The Democratic Women Members of the U.S. House and Senate

FROM: Rebecca Sive

SUBJECT: Here Is Today's Must-read Talking Points Memo, And It's Not About White House Party Planning

See below for today's talking point.

But, first, a preface to put today's talking point in context.

· You weren't elected to Congress to bargain away the positions that got you elected.

· You weren't elected to Congress with permission from us, (the women who elected you), to forget about the women of America and what we most need.

· You weren't elected to Congress to then become beholden to those who could care less about the rights of women, instead of to the women who elected you.

· You weren't elected to Congress to become a "player," to go to fancy parties, to sit in backrooms and make secret deals, to deal away our constitutional rights, and then go on holiday fact-finding trips to exotic locales.

You were elected to Congress to fight for us. And, in the words of the old Hebrew prayer: If not now, when?

Twenty-odd years ago, a group of us launched EMILY'S LIST with two explicit goals: Elect more pro-choice women to the U.S. Congress and Senate. We, and the millions of women who joined us, succeeded in our mission.

Thanks to us, you're there. We're not: So, here's what we need from you now:

· Stand-up, and say that a healthy America means equal access by all Americans, female as well as male, to the health care we need.

· Stand-up, and say that there can be no health care reform, worthy of the term, if it doesn't protect women's reproductive health.

· Stand-up, and say that it's a false choice to say that there can't be healthcare reform and protection of access to abortion and related reproductive health services.

· Stand-up, and say that you stand united, all of you, in rejecting the idea that when it comes to dealing with America's health care, it makes sense to give up and start dealing, before you've even tried to do the right thing.

· Stand-up, and say that you don't care one whit whether you're in those ever-so-important , Beltway inner sanctums, or not; that you won't be part of any diminution of women's rights, in exchange for access to those boy's clubs.

· Stand-up, and say that you know the only reason you're in Congress in the first place is to advocate unceasingly for the laws and policies women need.

And, remember this, as you contemplate these actions, so at-variance with Beltway business-as-usual:

· Your male co-workers have already forsaken you. Not a single male legislator has stood-up and said that insuring equitable access to women's reproductive health care, including abortion, is requisite to health care reform. We don't exist for them.

· Your President has forsaken you. The President has said nothing about the fundamental unfairness of Stupak-type legislation, its rewrite of the U.S. Constitution, or its deleterious effect on women's health. Apparently, we don't exist for him, either.

So, here is today's talking point:

· Gather yourselves together, and walk over to the White House and Senator Reid's office: Then, say this: It's time to start over. We're not buying your Hobson's Choice, and neither are the women of America. We know who we represent, and we're here to fight for them. And we won't leave, not a single one of us, until this fight is over, and we have won.