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.