Women Join Teleconference With First Lady

A woman recently diagnosed with AIDS wanted to know what the Clinton Administration was going to do to help female victims of the deadly disease.

A college student protested a portion of the Clinton health care plan that would deny coverage for abortion.

The two were among 100 women gathered in Universal City on Tuesday to participate in a nationwide teleconference with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton about the Administration's proposed health care plan.

The women--whose ranks included health educators, hospital officials, insurers and activists--spoke with Mrs. Clinton through an electronic hookup for about an hour. The group, which met at the UCLA Extension Center, was one of nine linked to the National Press Club in Washington, where the First Lady spoke.

The Los Angeles contingent was allowed to ask two questions during the broadcast, but recorded several more on audiotape to be sent to the White House.

Twenty-three-year-old Juliet Fisher, a law student, asked about the legality of the plan regarding the funding of abortions.

"The health care system as proposed will not provide coverage for abortion. I see every woman as having a pre-existing health condition, which is the potential to become pregnant," said Fisher. "How would you defend the proposed plan against the charge that it is an unconstitutional discrimination against women based on our sex?"

The question drew applause from the Universal City audience.

But while the First Lady acknowledged that doctors and hospitals could decline to perform abortions under a special "conscience exemption," she said the procedure is considered a pregnancy related service and is covered by the plan.

During the session to be sent by audiotape to Mrs. Clinton, Linda Luschei asked about educating the public about the impact of AIDS on women.

"For all these years, I have felt invisible in the epidemic," said the woman, who said she was recently diagnosed with the illness. "What does the Administration propose to do to educate the public that AIDS is a woman's disease too?"

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