5:14 PM EDT

Rosa DeLauro, D-CT 3rd

Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 1/2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer a simple amendment to strike language in this bill that unfairly penalizes the hard-working people of the Federal Government. This language prohibits health plans that participate in the Federal employees health benefits program from covering abortion. By doing so, it denies access to complete reproductive health services to nearly 1.2 million women of childbearing age who depend on this health benefits program for their medical care.

Every employee in the country has the option to choose a health care plan that covers the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion. Every employee, that is, except Federal employees. Since November 1995, Federal employees have been unable to choose a health care plan which includes coverage of this legal medical procedure.

Let me make one point very clear. This amendment does not provide government or taxpayer subsidies for abortion. The health care benefit, like the salary, belongs to the employee. The employee is then free to choose from a wide range of health plans that best meet their needs and then purchase that health plan with their own money. Again, with their own money.

This amendment does not mandate that any plan provide coverage for abortion against its objection. It simply allows Federal employees to have the option to purchase for themselves or their families a plan that suits their individual needs. An individual who does not want that coverage would have the choice, again the choice, not to purchase such a health plan.

Unfortunately, under current law and language included in this bill, Federal employees are left with no choice if tragedy strikes. I have heard the stories of Federal employees who are faced with a crisis pregnancy. This decision to end the pregnancy was the hardest decision of their lives. When they believed that their health insurance companies would pay for this health procedure and later found out Congress had restricted this coverage, they were harassed by creditors and forced into a financial

battle over one of the most personal and emotional decisions that they will ever have to make.

Mr. Chairman, abortion is a legal medical procedure. That is right. No matter how many times we come to this floor and debate this issue, it remains a constitutionally protected legal medical procedure. The court just reaffirmed that a few weeks ago. Our opponents can try to chip away access to this right for young women, poor women, imprisoned women, women in the military, and in this case women who work for the Federal Government. They can write legislation that limits every nuance of this

procedure and the issues surrounding it. But they have not won. Abortion is still a legal choice for women.

Singling out abortion for exclusion from health care plans that cover other reproductive health care is harmful to women's health. The AMA has said that funding restrictions such as this one that delay or deter women from seeking early abortions make it more likely that women will continue a potentially health-threatening pregnancy to term. This is all the more true because the bill provides no exception for coverage of abortions when a woman's health or future fertility is at stake.

I urge my colleagues to give our public servants the right to choose the health care that is best for them. I ask them to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:18 PM EDT

Joe Pitts, R-PA 16th

Mr. PITTS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the DeLauro amendment. This amendment has been offered and defeated for the last 5 years, but our pro-choice colleagues are at it again. In effect, it would force taxpayers to fund abortion. The pro-life language which this would strike prevents taxpayer funds from paying for abortions in Federal employee health benefit plans except when the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape and incest. [Page: H6659]

In 1998, the Federal Government contributed on the average 72 percent of the money toward the purchase of health insurance for its employees. Because taxpayers are the employers of Federal workers, employers determine the benefits employees get. And a large majority of taxpayers do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for abortion.

Mr. Chairman, should taxpayers be forced to underwrite the cost of abortions for Federal employees regardless of their income? According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, only 23 percent of those polled said that national health care plans should cover abortions, while 72 percent said those costs should be paid for directly by the women who have them.

When an ABC News/Washington Post poll asked Americans if they agree or disagree with the statement, ``The Federal Government should pay for an abortion for any women who wants it and cannot afford to pay it,'' 69 percent disagreed.

The Center for Gender Equality has reported that 53 percent of women favor banning abortion except for rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions. The pro-life language in the bill that the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) seeks to gut includes these exceptions. Obviously, if 53 percent of women favor banning abortion aside from these exceptions, then they would not want their tax dollars paying for abortion on demand as this amendment intends.

In a Gallup poll from May of last year, 71 percent of Americans supported some or total restrictions on abortion.

For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the DeLauro amendment.

5:18 PM EDT

Joe Pitts, R-PA 16th

Mr. PITTS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the DeLauro amendment. This amendment has been offered and defeated for the last 5 years, but our pro-choice colleagues are at it again. In effect, it would force taxpayers to fund abortion. The pro-life language which this would strike prevents taxpayer funds from paying for abortions in Federal employee health benefit plans except when the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape and incest. [Page: H6659]

In 1998, the Federal Government contributed on the average 72 percent of the money toward the purchase of health insurance for its employees. Because taxpayers are the employers of Federal workers, employers determine the benefits employees get. And a large majority of taxpayers do not want their tax dollars to be used to pay for abortion.

Mr. Chairman, should taxpayers be forced to underwrite the cost of abortions for Federal employees regardless of their income? According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, only 23 percent of those polled said that national health care plans should cover abortions, while 72 percent said those costs should be paid for directly by the women who have them.

When an ABC News/Washington Post poll asked Americans if they agree or disagree with the statement, ``The Federal Government should pay for an abortion for any women who wants it and cannot afford to pay it,'' 69 percent disagreed.

The Center for Gender Equality has reported that 53 percent of women favor banning abortion except for rape, incest and life of the mother exceptions. The pro-life language in the bill that the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) seeks to gut includes these exceptions. Obviously, if 53 percent of women favor banning abortion aside from these exceptions, then they would not want their tax dollars paying for abortion on demand as this amendment intends.

In a Gallup poll from May of last year, 71 percent of Americans supported some or total restrictions on abortion.

For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the DeLauro amendment.

5:21 PM EDT

Nita Lowey, D-NY 18th

Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support my colleague's motion, because I believe that the approximately 1.2 million women of reproductive age who rely on FEHBP for their medical care should have the option of choosing a health plan which includes coverage for abortion.

I want to stress that women should have the option. In 1995, Federal employees had many options. Of the then 345 FEHBP plans, just about half, 178, covered abortion. If women wanted to participate in a plan that covered abortions, they could. If they found abortion objectionable, then they could opt for a plan that did not cover abortion. The choice was theirs, not mine, not yours, not this institution's.

That is why, although many of us are tired of constantly battling about this issue, I continue to speak about this because I believe that our approach should be to make terminating a pregnancy less necessary. If we agree, pro-choice, pro-life, that our goal should be less abortion, then our focus must be on what we can do to further that goal.

I am very pleased that this bill contains provisions that guarantee contraceptive equity for Federal employee families. We can do more to increase access to contraception and work harder to educate people about responsibility. That will help us make the difficult choice of abortion less necessary.

Making abortion inaccessible in my judgment is not the answer. Contraceptive methods may fail, pregnancies may go unexpectedly and tragically wrong. No matter how good the contraceptive technology and how much education we do, some women will need abortions and that should be their decision, not ours. Abortion must remain safe and legal. I oppose excluding abortion, among the most commonly surgeries for women, from health care coverage. I support allowing Federal employees to have the option

of abortion coverage with their own money, their earned income, in these plans.

I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting the DeLauro motion to strike and let us work for a day when abortion is truly rare.

5:23 PM EDT

Mark Edward Souder, R-IN 4th

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, just a few minutes ago on this House floor we heard about the sad plight of some children in Africa. We deal with many cases of child abuse and persecution and the violence against children. Many of us believe that human life begins at conception. In fact, most Americans do. When you look at the brutality of the abortion procedure, whether it is burning the skin off the babies, whether it is cutting them up, whether it is blowing them to pieces as they bring them out,

or the partial-birth abortion where they kill them with a blunt instrument when all but the head is out, it is a brutal procedure.

But this is not a debate over whether abortion is legal because whether I like it or not, abortion is legal. This is a question over whether people like me and other Americans in Indiana and other States around the country have to be forced to pay for the killing of what we believe is innocent, defenseless little children.

The earliest speaker here, the distinguished gentlewoman from Connecticut, said that these were plans paid for by Federal employees. She neglected a teensy-weensy little fact, and, that is, our health care plans, including mine, are 28 percent roughly, depending on which plan you choose, paid by you and 72 percent by everybody else. This is whether or not we have to be forced to pay for other people's choices.

The Supreme Court has been clear. We do not have to pay for someone's abortion. They have a right to choose abortion, but they do not have a right to have me violate my beliefs, the majority of the people of Indiana who share that belief and other parts of the country who share that belief have to pay for a procedure that they find offensive.

Now, the truth is, many Americans are on the fence here. They find abortion abhorrent, but they believe other people should be allowed to choose. But it is clear, the majority of Americans do not want what they believe is the blood on their hands, and I do not believe that we should be forced to pay for other people's abortion by subsidizing as we do in Congress 75 percent of the procedure.

5:25 PM EDT

Rosa DeLauro, D-CT 3rd

Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 10 seconds. This amendment does not provide government or taxpayer subsidies for abortion. The health care benefit, like the salary, belongs to the employee. The employee is free to choose from a health care plan that best meets their needs.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE).

5:25 PM EDT

Rosa DeLauro, D-CT 3rd

Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 10 seconds. This amendment does not provide government or taxpayer subsidies for abortion. The health care benefit, like the salary, belongs to the employee. The employee is free to choose from a health care plan that best meets their needs.

Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. LEE).

5:26 PM EDT

Barbara Lee, D-CA 9th

Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time and also for her commitment and her consistent work in support of the rights of all women.

I rise in strong support today of the DeLauro amendment that strikes the prohibition of abortion coverage within the Federal Employees Health benefits Plans. Approximately 1.2 million women of reproductive age rely on the Federal employees health benefits program. Denying them access to health services is denying them the right to lead healthy lives as they so choose. Restricting this fundamental right is discriminating against women in the public sector. We are currently denying these women

access to a legal health service.

The DeLauro amendment would allow government employees to choose a health care plan that would cover the full range of reproductive services, including abortion. It is wrong to impose personal ideology on compensation benefits to millions of women. This provision would not result in government subsidized abortions. Instead, it would allow women in the public sector the same fundamental reproductive health services as women in the private sector.

Why should a woman be denied access to care simply because she chooses to work for the Federal Government? This is so unfair and it is wrong. The current prohibition has made it more difficult and more dangerous for women working in the Government to exercise their constitutional guarantee of freedom of choice. We must begin to take the politics out of providing health care for Federal employees.

5:26 PM EDT

Barbara Lee, D-CA 9th

Ms. LEE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time and also for her commitment and her consistent work in support of the rights of all women.

I rise in strong support today of the DeLauro amendment that strikes the prohibition of abortion coverage within the Federal Employees Health benefits Plans. Approximately 1.2 million women of reproductive age rely on the Federal employees health benefits program. Denying them access to health services is denying them the right to lead healthy lives as they so choose. Restricting this fundamental right is discriminating against women in the public sector. We are currently denying these women

access to a legal health service.

The DeLauro amendment would allow government employees to choose a health care plan that would cover the full range of reproductive services, including abortion. It is wrong to impose personal ideology on compensation benefits to millions of women. This provision would not result in government subsidized abortions. Instead, it would allow women in the public sector the same fundamental reproductive health services as women in the private sector.

Why should a woman be denied access to care simply because she chooses to work for the Federal Government? This is so unfair and it is wrong. The current prohibition has made it more difficult and more dangerous for women working in the Government to exercise their constitutional guarantee of freedom of choice. We must begin to take the politics out of providing health care for Federal employees.

5:37 PM EDT

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-MI 15th

Ms. KILPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise to, first of all, thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding the time to me, and also for offering the amendment.

We in this House of Representatives, as well as Federal employees across this country, enjoy the rights of deciding a benefit given to them, along with their salary, that belongs to them to choose the health plan that suits them and their children.

I believe that we ought to allow these wonderful Federal women employees that right, a right to a procedure that is legal, a right to a procedure that everywhere else, except in Federal employees status cannot be selected, because this Congress, I might add, will not allow it.

I am wondering why this provision is not, as we hear so many times using authorizing on an appropriations bill, someone should rule it out of order. I believe this section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and should stand on its own in proper legislation and in the proper committee of jurisdiction.

Why are we now taking a procedure that is legal for thousands of women, heads of households, I am a mother, I have never had to use abortion, praise the Lord, but some people may find in their lifetime they have to make that decision.

God has blessed women to bear children, and women ought to be allowed with their God and their husband or significant other to make that decision. I praise and applaud the woman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for offering the amendment. This amendment discriminates against women Federal employees. Who are we, 435 of the finest citizens in the most powerful government, to decide what God has decided that a woman must or must not do with her body? I think it is appalling.

I think section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and ought to be ruled out of order.

5:37 PM EDT

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-MI 15th

Ms. KILPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise to, first of all, thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding the time to me, and also for offering the amendment.

We in this House of Representatives, as well as Federal employees across this country, enjoy the rights of deciding a benefit given to them, along with their salary, that belongs to them to choose the health plan that suits them and their children.

I believe that we ought to allow these wonderful Federal women employees that right, a right to a procedure that is legal, a right to a procedure that everywhere else, except in Federal employees status cannot be selected, because this Congress, I might add, will not allow it.

I am wondering why this provision is not, as we hear so many times using authorizing on an appropriations bill, someone should rule it out of order. I believe this section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and should stand on its own in proper legislation and in the proper committee of jurisdiction.

Why are we now taking a procedure that is legal for thousands of women, heads of households, I am a mother, I have never had to use abortion, praise the Lord, but some people may find in their lifetime they have to make that decision.

God has blessed women to bear children, and women ought to be allowed with their God and their husband or significant other to make that decision. I praise and applaud the woman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for offering the amendment. This amendment discriminates against women Federal employees. Who are we, 435 of the finest citizens in the most powerful government, to decide what God has decided that a woman must or must not do with her body? I think it is appalling.

I think section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and ought to be ruled out of order.

5:37 PM EDT

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-MI 15th

Ms. KILPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise to, first of all, thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding the time to me, and also for offering the amendment.

We in this House of Representatives, as well as Federal employees across this country, enjoy the rights of deciding a benefit given to them, along with their salary, that belongs to them to choose the health plan that suits them and their children.

I believe that we ought to allow these wonderful Federal women employees that right, a right to a procedure that is legal, a right to a procedure that everywhere else, except in Federal employees status cannot be selected, because this Congress, I might add, will not allow it.

I am wondering why this provision is not, as we hear so many times using authorizing on an appropriations bill, someone should rule it out of order. I believe this section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and should stand on its own in proper legislation and in the proper committee of jurisdiction.

Why are we now taking a procedure that is legal for thousands of women, heads of households, I am a mother, I have never had to use abortion, praise the Lord, but some people may find in their lifetime they have to make that decision.

God has blessed women to bear children, and women ought to be allowed with their God and their husband or significant other to make that decision. I praise and applaud the woman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for offering the amendment. This amendment discriminates against women Federal employees. Who are we, 435 of the finest citizens in the most powerful government, to decide what God has decided that a woman must or must not do with her body? I think it is appalling.

I think section 509 is authorizing on an appropriations bill and ought to be ruled out of order.

5:40 PM EDT

David Weldon, R-FL 15th

Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me the time, and I rise in very strong opposition to this amendment.

The gentlewoman offered this amendment last year and it was defeated by a vote of 188 to 230. The provision that the gentlewoman is offering seeks to strike language that has been included in this legislation for years.

The funding restriction in the bill addresses the same core issue as the Hyde amendment, should the Federal Government be in the business of funding abortions? Should taxpayers be forced to underwrite the cost of abortions for Federal employees?

This debate is not one involving the legality of abortion. It is about using taxpayer dollars for abortions.

The point is that the vast majority of Americans feel very strongly that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund abortions in the United States of America.

Some people may try to claim that this is just another medical procedure. We all know that this is not just another medical procedure. It is a very unique procedure where one of the participants in the procedure ends up dead.

I have been a practicing internist for 20 years, and I would argue that the unborn baby in the womb is not a potential life. It meets all of the medical criteria for a life. The criteria that I used as a practicing physician to determine whether somebody is alive or dead, a beating heart, active brain waves; indeed, using modern ultrasound technology today, we can show as early as just a few weeks of life activity on the part of the developing fetus, moving arms and moving legs.

The Supreme Court, the Court that created legalized abortion in America, has actually ruled on this issue upholding the Hyde amendment language. The Court said, abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life. They used the word potential there, I say it is a life.

Mr. Chairman, I reject this amendment and I would encourage all of my colleagues to vote against it.

5:40 PM EDT

David Weldon, R-FL 15th

Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding me the time, and I rise in very strong opposition to this amendment.

The gentlewoman offered this amendment last year and it was defeated by a vote of 188 to 230. The provision that the gentlewoman is offering seeks to strike language that has been included in this legislation for years.

The funding restriction in the bill addresses the same core issue as the Hyde amendment, should the Federal Government be in the business of funding abortions? Should taxpayers be forced to underwrite the cost of abortions for Federal employees?

This debate is not one involving the legality of abortion. It is about using taxpayer dollars for abortions.

The point is that the vast majority of Americans feel very strongly that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund abortions in the United States of America.

Some people may try to claim that this is just another medical procedure. We all know that this is not just another medical procedure. It is a very unique procedure where one of the participants in the procedure ends up dead.

I have been a practicing internist for 20 years, and I would argue that the unborn baby in the womb is not a potential life. It meets all of the medical criteria for a life. The criteria that I used as a practicing physician to determine whether somebody is alive or dead, a beating heart, active brain waves; indeed, using modern ultrasound technology today, we can show as early as just a few weeks of life activity on the part of the developing fetus, moving arms and moving legs.

The Supreme Court, the Court that created legalized abortion in America, has actually ruled on this issue upholding the Hyde amendment language. The Court said, abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life. They used the word potential there, I say it is a life.

Mr. Chairman, I reject this amendment and I would encourage all of my colleagues to vote against it.

5:42 PM EDT

Connie Morella, R-MD 8th

Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding the time to me, but also for introducing this amendment, because I rise in strong support of it. It would simply prevent discrimination against Federal employees in their health care coverage.

It was 5 years ago when Congress voted to deny Federal employees abortion coverage that was already provided to most of the country's workforce through their private health insurance plans. This discriminatory decision was another attempt to diminish the benefits of Federal employees and their right to choose an insurance plan that best meets their health care needs.

I heard the term that this is being funded by the Federal Government. It is not. The government simply contributes to the premiums of Federal employees in order to allow them to purchase health insurance; this contribution is part of the employee benefit package, just like an employee's salary or retirement benefits.

Currently, if we look at the private sector, approximately two-thirds of private fee-for-service health insurance plans and 70 percent of HMOs provide abortion coverage.

When this ban was reinstated 5 years ago, 178 of the FEHBP plans out of 345 offered abortion coverages. Women could choose, they could decide whether to participate in a plan with or without this coverage. Thus, the employee could make that decision.

Quite frankly, it is insulting to our Federal employees that they are being told that part of their compensation package is not under their control.

Mr. Chairman, approximately 1.2 million women of reproductive age rely on FEHBP for their health coverage. What we are doing, unless we adopt this amendment, is denying 1.2 million women for making their own right to choose a health care plan.

[Time: 17:45]

I urge my colleagues to support the DeLauro amendment and ensure that Federal employees are once again provided their legal right to choose.

5:43 PM EDT

Connie Morella, R-MD 8th

Mrs. MORELLA. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding the time to me, but also for introducing this amendment, because I rise in strong support of it. It would simply prevent discrimination against Federal employees in their health care coverage.

It was 5 years ago when Congress voted to deny Federal employees abortion coverage that was already provided to most of the country's workforce through their private health insurance plans. This discriminatory decision was another attempt to diminish the benefits of Federal employees and their right to choose an insurance plan that best meets their health care needs.

I heard the term that this is being funded by the Federal Government. It is not. The government simply contributes to the premiums of Federal employees in order to allow them to purchase health insurance; this contribution is part of the employee benefit package, just like an employee's salary or retirement benefits.

Currently, if we look at the private sector, approximately two-thirds of private fee-for-service health insurance plans and 70 percent of HMOs provide abortion coverage.

When this ban was reinstated 5 years ago, 178 of the FEHBP plans out of 345 offered abortion coverages. Women could choose, they could decide whether to participate in a plan with or without this coverage. Thus, the employee could make that decision.

Quite frankly, it is insulting to our Federal employees that they are being told that part of their compensation package is not under their control.

Mr. Chairman, approximately 1.2 million women of reproductive age rely on FEHBP for their health coverage. What we are doing, unless we adopt this amendment, is denying 1.2 million women for making their own right to choose a health care plan.

[Time: 17:45]

I urge my colleagues to support the DeLauro amendment and ensure that Federal employees are once again provided their legal right to choose.

5:45 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I do not want to offend anybody in this body, but I think we ought to really characterize what this debate is about, and that is whether or not we are going to use taxpayer dollars to allow a woman to kill her unborn baby. I mean, we can say that is not a politically correct statement; but that is what abortion is, is an unborn human being, a child, is being killed. Now, we can say, no, that is not it; it has no standing, but the fact is the Supreme Court recognizes

that death in this country only occurs when there is an absence of brain waves and heartbeat.

At 19 days post-conception, infants, children in their mother's womb, meet that. [Page: H6662]

The other contention that I think we ought to talk about, very frankly, is whether or not killing an unborn child is health care. Who is that health care for, and should we ask the taxpayers of this country to subsidize the taking of unborn life? The fact is the vast majority of Americans today do not believe that abortion is the right thing to do, by far. It is growing every day as they see the truth about abortion.

The fact is that we do not consider the rights of the unborn child, except if the child is injured unintentionally in a car wreck or injured in some other way. Then it has standing. But if it has standing at those times, we are going to say the rest of the time it has no standing. Mark my words, our country will change this.

We can all disagree about whether or not this is a right or a wrong thing to do, but the fact that we should not subsidize it and the fact that the American people, by a large majority, do not want us subsidizing it, speaks very plainly to the fact that they know what the truth is: abortion is not health care. Abortion is taking the life of an unborn human being that is unique, has never been here before, never been created before, is totally unique, has the attributes of life, a beating heart,

active brain waves.

We can deny that because it is convenient to rationalize our moral choice for an inadvertent sexual activity. This amendment would pretend that rape, incest and the life of the woman does not exist. They are excepted in this. So the fact is we are protecting the true health of the woman in recognizing the right under our constitution of this unborn child.

5:45 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I do not want to offend anybody in this body, but I think we ought to really characterize what this debate is about, and that is whether or not we are going to use taxpayer dollars to allow a woman to kill her unborn baby. I mean, we can say that is not a politically correct statement; but that is what abortion is, is an unborn human being, a child, is being killed. Now, we can say, no, that is not it; it has no standing, but the fact is the Supreme Court recognizes

that death in this country only occurs when there is an absence of brain waves and heartbeat.

At 19 days post-conception, infants, children in their mother's womb, meet that. [Page: H6662]

The other contention that I think we ought to talk about, very frankly, is whether or not killing an unborn child is health care. Who is that health care for, and should we ask the taxpayers of this country to subsidize the taking of unborn life? The fact is the vast majority of Americans today do not believe that abortion is the right thing to do, by far. It is growing every day as they see the truth about abortion.

The fact is that we do not consider the rights of the unborn child, except if the child is injured unintentionally in a car wreck or injured in some other way. Then it has standing. But if it has standing at those times, we are going to say the rest of the time it has no standing. Mark my words, our country will change this.

We can all disagree about whether or not this is a right or a wrong thing to do, but the fact that we should not subsidize it and the fact that the American people, by a large majority, do not want us subsidizing it, speaks very plainly to the fact that they know what the truth is: abortion is not health care. Abortion is taking the life of an unborn human being that is unique, has never been here before, never been created before, is totally unique, has the attributes of life, a beating heart,

active brain waves.

We can deny that because it is convenient to rationalize our moral choice for an inadvertent sexual activity. This amendment would pretend that rape, incest and the life of the woman does not exist. They are excepted in this. So the fact is we are protecting the true health of the woman in recognizing the right under our constitution of this unborn child.

5:48 PM EDT

Carrie Meek, D-FL 17th

Mrs. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague, the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO), for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, the gentlemen from whom we have heard tonight have every right to support their ideologies against abortion. That is their right. It is their personal ideology, and I cannot disapprove of their personal ideology; but I only ask them one thing. It is not their right to impose their personal beliefs to the Congress or to this country. If I had my way, there would be a lot of my personal beliefs that I would be able to impose on this Congress, but the Constitution of this country does

not give me that right. It does not give any man in this country the right to choose a woman's right to choose. It is her right; and if she does not follow her religious and moral constraints, she has to pay for it. I do not have to pay for hers, but as an elected official I cannot say this because I agree or disagree with someone then they do not have a right to choose.

No matter how poignant the stories or the anecdotal information we have heard here tonight, it does not give anyone the right to choose. I support the DeLauro amendment. I believe in justice and fairness to women, as well as to men.

5:49 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to say that I have the utmost respect for the gentlewoman from Florida (Mrs. MEEK), but the statement she just made ignores one person's rights, and that is the rights of the unborn. Read our Declaration of Independence. Read our Constitution. Regardless of what the law is, in the scheme of the long-term measure of us as a society, it is going to be said that we did the wrong thing.

Legally, we have the right to abortion in this country. We are not disputing that. That is the law. I would just state that the fact is the judgment in history on our society is not going to be whether or not we recognize the woman's right to choose. It is going to be whether we recognize the innocent's right to life.

5:51 PM EDT

Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, there are about 1.2 million women of reproductive age who depend on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for their health care, and our congressional staff makes up a large number of those women. So I ask Members to look at their female staff who work so hard for all of us, who serve our districts and ask how they can stand not to provide these young women with reproductive health services, health services that would allow their health plans to cover abortion

services. How could they not allow them to be covered even if their health or future fertility were at stake?

As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to offer women in public service a full range of reproductive health options, including abortion services. I want all of us to vote for the DeLauro amendment to allow Federal plans to offer health services to cover abortions.

5:51 PM EDT

Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, there are about 1.2 million women of reproductive age who depend on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for their health care, and our congressional staff makes up a large number of those women. So I ask Members to look at their female staff who work so hard for all of us, who serve our districts and ask how they can stand not to provide these young women with reproductive health services, health services that would allow their health plans to cover abortion

services. How could they not allow them to be covered even if their health or future fertility were at stake?

As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to offer women in public service a full range of reproductive health options, including abortion services. I want all of us to vote for the DeLauro amendment to allow Federal plans to offer health services to cover abortions.

5:51 PM EDT

Lynn Woolsey, D-CA 6th

Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, there are about 1.2 million women of reproductive age who depend on the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program for their health care, and our congressional staff makes up a large number of those women. So I ask Members to look at their female staff who work so hard for all of us, who serve our districts and ask how they can stand not to provide these young women with reproductive health services, health services that would allow their health plans to cover abortion

services. How could they not allow them to be covered even if their health or future fertility were at stake?

As Members of Congress, we have an obligation to offer women in public service a full range of reproductive health options, including abortion services. I want all of us to vote for the DeLauro amendment to allow Federal plans to offer health services to cover abortions.

5:53 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the DeLauro amendment to strike the provision which bans Federal health plans from offering abortion coverage. Approximately two-thirds of private fee-for-service plans and 70 percent of HMOs provide abortion coverage.

Until 1995, the Federal Government in its employee benefit plans likewise provided this coverage, but we have allowed the anti-choice forces in this House to substitute their judgment and their morality and their opinions to impose those opinions and judgments on the women in the workforce of the United States. This is shameful and unjust.

We should not allow the ideological bias of some Members to decide what more than a million employees of the Federal Government can do with their own compensation.

By specifying what they can do with their own compensation, we are seriously intruding into their privacy and their control over their own salaries and benefits.

Mr. Chairman, a moment ago it was alluded to the fact or to the assertion that what will be remembered in the future is what we do with respect to the lives of innocents. Well, the fact is there is a difference of opinion as to when life begins, and we say that a woman must have the ability to make her own moral choices and not have the Government make that choice. The Supreme Court says that, too; but we are misusing the power of this House to say we cannot impose our will on the women of America

in terms of whether they choose to have an abortion. We cannot substitute our judgments for theirs, but we can substitute our judgment for those who happen to work for the Federal Government because we can make sure that their insurance will not cover it. That is wrong.

They have the right to make their own moral judgments. Every woman must make a moral judgment for herself and we should not substitute the judgments of the Members of this House for theirs. That is an arrogant form of moral imperialism, and we should not do it.

5:53 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the DeLauro amendment to strike the provision which bans Federal health plans from offering abortion coverage. Approximately two-thirds of private fee-for-service plans and 70 percent of HMOs provide abortion coverage.

Until 1995, the Federal Government in its employee benefit plans likewise provided this coverage, but we have allowed the anti-choice forces in this House to substitute their judgment and their morality and their opinions to impose those opinions and judgments on the women in the workforce of the United States. This is shameful and unjust.

We should not allow the ideological bias of some Members to decide what more than a million employees of the Federal Government can do with their own compensation.

By specifying what they can do with their own compensation, we are seriously intruding into their privacy and their control over their own salaries and benefits.

Mr. Chairman, a moment ago it was alluded to the fact or to the assertion that what will be remembered in the future is what we do with respect to the lives of innocents. Well, the fact is there is a difference of opinion as to when life begins, and we say that a woman must have the ability to make her own moral choices and not have the Government make that choice. The Supreme Court says that, too; but we are misusing the power of this House to say we cannot impose our will on the women of America

in terms of whether they choose to have an abortion. We cannot substitute our judgments for theirs, but we can substitute our judgment for those who happen to work for the Federal Government because we can make sure that their insurance will not cover it. That is wrong.

They have the right to make their own moral judgments. Every woman must make a moral judgment for herself and we should not substitute the judgments of the Members of this House for theirs. That is an arrogant form of moral imperialism, and we should not do it.

5:53 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the DeLauro amendment to strike the provision which bans Federal health plans from offering abortion coverage. Approximately two-thirds of private fee-for-service plans and 70 percent of HMOs provide abortion coverage.

Until 1995, the Federal Government in its employee benefit plans likewise provided this coverage, but we have allowed the anti-choice forces in this House to substitute their judgment and their morality and their opinions to impose those opinions and judgments on the women in the workforce of the United States. This is shameful and unjust.

We should not allow the ideological bias of some Members to decide what more than a million employees of the Federal Government can do with their own compensation.

By specifying what they can do with their own compensation, we are seriously intruding into their privacy and their control over their own salaries and benefits.

Mr. Chairman, a moment ago it was alluded to the fact or to the assertion that what will be remembered in the future is what we do with respect to the lives of innocents. Well, the fact is there is a difference of opinion as to when life begins, and we say that a woman must have the ability to make her own moral choices and not have the Government make that choice. The Supreme Court says that, too; but we are misusing the power of this House to say we cannot impose our will on the women of America

in terms of whether they choose to have an abortion. We cannot substitute our judgments for theirs, but we can substitute our judgment for those who happen to work for the Federal Government because we can make sure that their insurance will not cover it. That is wrong.

They have the right to make their own moral judgments. Every woman must make a moral judgment for herself and we should not substitute the judgments of the Members of this House for theirs. That is an arrogant form of moral imperialism, and we should not do it.

5:55 PM EDT

Carolyn Maloney, D-NY 14th

Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Chairman, I join my colleague, the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO), and congratulate her for her leadership and support of a woman's right to choose and rise in strong support of her amendment.

This is the 151 vote on choice since the beginning of the 104th Congress; and once again, this Congress is attempting to deny women access to legal health services.

Mr. Chairman, it was only 5 years ago that I and millions of other women employed in Federal service received a notice in the mail that our health insurance coverage by law would no longer cover abortion. It was one small notice in the mail but one giant step backward for a woman's right to choose. [Page: H6663]

This amendment would simply give health care providers of Federal employees the option of providing a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion. This restriction is another attempt by anti-choice forces on the other side of the aisle to make abortion less accessible to women. Not only does it discriminate against women in public service, but it endangers their health. It is wrong and unfair, and that notice took us backward. We need to correct it with this amendment and take

women forward once again.

5:55 PM EDT

Carolyn Maloney, D-NY 14th

Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Chairman, I join my colleague, the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO), and congratulate her for her leadership and support of a woman's right to choose and rise in strong support of her amendment.

This is the 151 vote on choice since the beginning of the 104th Congress; and once again, this Congress is attempting to deny women access to legal health services.

Mr. Chairman, it was only 5 years ago that I and millions of other women employed in Federal service received a notice in the mail that our health insurance coverage by law would no longer cover abortion. It was one small notice in the mail but one giant step backward for a woman's right to choose. [Page: H6663]

This amendment would simply give health care providers of Federal employees the option of providing a full range of reproductive health services, including abortion. This restriction is another attempt by anti-choice forces on the other side of the aisle to make abortion less accessible to women. Not only does it discriminate against women in public service, but it endangers their health. It is wrong and unfair, and that notice took us backward. We need to correct it with this amendment and take

women forward once again.

5:56 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, this has been called an amendment on choice or life. I have argued this amendment repeatedly and have lost. This amendment is, I think, about whose money is it.

Now, I have propounded this argument before, and it has been rejected by the majority of this House. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. PITTS) said, and numerous other speakers have said about our money, that it is the taxpayers' money, the Federal Government's money. Now, a Federal employee is in a unique position in that 100 percent of their compensation package, salary, health benefits and retirement, are paid by the taxpayer. If one adopts the premise of the opponents of this amendment,

then the Federal employee ought to be in the position of being told how to spend 100 percent of their money. That is the logical conclusion one must draw from the arguments being made today.

The Federal employee goes to work and is told we are going to pay X number of dollars, we are going to get health benefits and there is going to be a retirement system. That is their compensation package.

We take the position, apparently, that with respect to part of it, we are going to tell them how to spend it. We do not tell any other employees in the Nation how they can spend their package. We do not do it. So all of this is turned into a device to the same argument that deeply divides our Nation.

[Time: 18:00]

5:57 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, this has been called an amendment on choice or life. I have argued this amendment repeatedly and have lost. This amendment is, I think, about whose money is it.

Now, I have propounded this argument before, and it has been rejected by the majority of this House. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. PITTS) said, and numerous other speakers have said about our money, that it is the taxpayers' money, the Federal Government's money. Now, a Federal employee is in a unique position in that 100 percent of their compensation package, salary, health benefits and retirement, are paid by the taxpayer. If one adopts the premise of the opponents of this amendment,

then the Federal employee ought to be in the position of being told how to spend 100 percent of their money. That is the logical conclusion one must draw from the arguments being made today.

The Federal employee goes to work and is told we are going to pay X number of dollars, we are going to get health benefits and there is going to be a retirement system. That is their compensation package.

We take the position, apparently, that with respect to part of it, we are going to tell them how to spend it. We do not tell any other employees in the Nation how they can spend their package. We do not do it. So all of this is turned into a device to the same argument that deeply divides our Nation.

[Time: 18:00]

5:57 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, this has been called an amendment on choice or life. I have argued this amendment repeatedly and have lost. This amendment is, I think, about whose money is it.

Now, I have propounded this argument before, and it has been rejected by the majority of this House. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. PITTS) said, and numerous other speakers have said about our money, that it is the taxpayers' money, the Federal Government's money. Now, a Federal employee is in a unique position in that 100 percent of their compensation package, salary, health benefits and retirement, are paid by the taxpayer. If one adopts the premise of the opponents of this amendment,

then the Federal employee ought to be in the position of being told how to spend 100 percent of their money. That is the logical conclusion one must draw from the arguments being made today.

The Federal employee goes to work and is told we are going to pay X number of dollars, we are going to get health benefits and there is going to be a retirement system. That is their compensation package.

We take the position, apparently, that with respect to part of it, we are going to tell them how to spend it. We do not tell any other employees in the Nation how they can spend their package. We do not do it. So all of this is turned into a device to the same argument that deeply divides our Nation.

[Time: 18:00]

5:59 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, we take this debate and convert it into a debate over an issue that deeply divides this Nation and is an excruciatingly difficult issue. That is unfortunate, because in my opinion, this ought not to be a difficult issue. Because it is about whether or not Federal employees are equal to all other employees in terms of spending their money. It is not the taxpayers' money; they earned it, and the taxpayer converted it to the Federal employee in return for the services they

perform for the Federal Government. It is the Federal employees' money.

Now, yes, part of that compensation is, we pay 72 percent of the benefits, but they choose the policy, and they have a wide variety of policies, because we have an excellent program as part of their compensation package.

So, Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to try to look at what the substance of this does. I tell my friend, and good friend from New Jersey, the issue that he argues passionately about I respect him for. It is not, however, the issue raised by this amendment, I would suggest to him.

5:59 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, we take this debate and convert it into a debate over an issue that deeply divides this Nation and is an excruciatingly difficult issue. That is unfortunate, because in my opinion, this ought not to be a difficult issue. Because it is about whether or not Federal employees are equal to all other employees in terms of spending their money. It is not the taxpayers' money; they earned it, and the taxpayer converted it to the Federal employee in return for the services they

perform for the Federal Government. It is the Federal employees' money.

Now, yes, part of that compensation is, we pay 72 percent of the benefits, but they choose the policy, and they have a wide variety of policies, because we have an excellent program as part of their compensation package.

So, Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to try to look at what the substance of this does. I tell my friend, and good friend from New Jersey, the issue that he argues passionately about I respect him for. It is not, however, the issue raised by this amendment, I would suggest to him.

6:01 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, very briefly, I think my position on this matter of choice is fairly well known. I have long supported a woman's right to choose. I find myself in a somewhat different position today here, as the chairman of the subcommittee.

What we have attempted to do as a subcommittee is to cut through this Gordian's knot by taking the position that this House has spoken about fairly clearly in the last couple of years. On the one hand, we do have the prohibition, which the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DELAURO) seeks to strike, that prevents health benefits for Federal employees from including any kind of abortion service. On the other hand, we do also have the provision in there which was debated and fought over this

last year which allows for contraceptive services to be offered for those who have Federal employment health benefits.

While this is a difficult position and one that I may not completely support myself, I do believe the position of the committee and the position of the House is in this legislation and should be supported. For that reason, I oppose the amendment.