03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Heart of the Health Care Debate on Abortion

Politics is dangerously personal for women right now.

The Washington Post featured an article earlier this week about one woman's struggle to obtain the care she needed.

It should have been a happy time. D.J. Feldman, a federal attorney, and her husband had been trying to have a baby for two years, and finally she was pregnant. But, at 11 weeks, Feldman learned that the child she was carrying had anencephaly, a fatal defect that also put Feldman in serious medical jeopardy. Her doctor told her she should end the pregnancy.

But Feldman is a federal employee -- and, thanks to anti-choice forces in Congress, federal employee health care plans do not cover abortions. That means that Feldman's insurance would not cover the $9,000 procedure. Despite her doctor's efforts to explain the health risks the pregnancy posed to Feldman's life, her claim was denied.

And so, at an incredibly difficult time with no good options, Feldman paid out-of-pocket for a procedure she did not want, but needed. Many women less financially secure would simply not have that option.

Her story is at the heart of the health care debate on abortion. And it will be the story of many other women in this country if the anti-choice members of Congress have their way.

This historic plan designed to improve Americans' lives and make them healthier and safer could, for women facing an unintended or dangerous pregnancy, deny them access to the care they need.

The House version of the bill, passed several weeks ago, included the Stupak/Pitts amendment, which goes further than any previous federal law to restrict access to abortion. It would prohibit millions of women from getting coverage for abortion in their health insurance plans, even if they are willing to pay for it themselves.

Now Senators Ben Nelson and Orrin Hatch are proposing an amendment to the Senate health care bill that, according to Hatch, mirrors the Stupak language.

EMILY's List has joined with more than 50 pro-choice allies to form a coalition dedicated to preventing these draconian new restrictions on women's access to safe, legal abortion from becoming part of Congress's overhaul on heath care. More than 40,000 people have signed our petition at, and every day we hear from supporters across the country who want to join our fight against these outrageous new restrictions.

At a Stop Stupak rally on Capitol Hill this week, pro-choice Americans raised our voices as one with a simple message: the women whose lives this amendment endangers are not anonymous. They aren't careless, foolish people who forgot to use birth control. They are our sisters, wives, mothers, and daughters. And today they are counting on us to make sure they have access to the care they need.

Please go to now and join EMILY's List in telling Congress we won't accept health care reform that endangers women's lives.