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.