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.