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Abortion-Rights Groups Plan Rally

“Your secure online donation today will be put to work immediately to help urge the Senate to pass health care reform without denying services to millions of women whose private plans already cover reproductive-health care, in addition to supporting all our work on behalf of women’s reproductive health,” the message stated.

NARAL would not disclose how much money it has raised since the plea went out. But the group’s spokesman, Ted Miller, called the member response “incredible on all levels.”

On Monday, NARAL President Nancy Keenan delivered a petition to Reid asking him to resist pressure to include House anti-abortion language sponsored by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joe Pitts(R-Pa.).

NARAL worked with People for the American Way to collect 97,218 signatures on the petition.

The Stupak-Pitts provision bars the use of federal funds to pay for an abortion or cover any part of the costs of any plan that includes coverage of abortion, unless pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or the life of the mother is endangered. The House stripped a compromise that would have allowed private plans that receive public subsidies to offer elective abortions if they paid for the procedure only with private funds.

Abortion-rights proponents face formidable opponents including the Roman Catholic Church and socially conservative groups that have also rallied their activists.

But women’s groups clearly hope they can put enough political pressure on Democrats and President Barack Obama, whose 2008 victory relied on strong female support. Exit polls showed Obama received 56 percent of women’s votes in his race against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY’s List, which supports female Democratic candidates who favor abortion rights, said that “a lot of women are pretty upset and energized” by the recent events.

She said there would be a “firestorm” if Congress approved health care reform with the restrictions. However, Malcolm predicted that such language would not survive in the final version of health care reform legislation.

As the Senate prepares to take up health care reform, other groups are also working feverishly to get their message across. Conservative coalition High Noon for Health Care was urging its members to flood Senate offices with e-mails and calls on Wednesday to tell them to oppose bringing up the health care legislation at all. Reid will need 60 votes to commence debate on the measure.

The coalition, which includes Let Freedom Ring, Citizens Against Government Waste, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform, said it wants to defeat the Senate health care bills.

“News reports indicate that Senate Democrats are following former President Bill Clinton’s advice by rushing through a bill that Americans don’t support and haven’t even read,” said Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, a conservative group that ran ads accusing Obama of being a flip-flopper during the 2008 campaign.

Meanwhile, Health Care for America Now, a liberal coalition, took a shot at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over a report that the business group was soliciting funds to hire an economist to produce a negative analysis of the health care plan.

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