First lady jumps into healthcare push with stories from women

First lady Michelle Obama jumped into the healthcare debate Friday, making an emotional plea to pass reform as her husband prepared for a media blitz to push legislation.

Mrs. Obama's voice was at times shaking as she reacted to the healthcare horror stories of women in the audience in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and she sought to broaden the debate to make healthcare a women's and family issue.

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After listening to stories from women struggling in the current system, Mrs. Obama said that "this is why we're fighting so hard for health insurance reform."

"This is it," she said. "This is the fight."

With the White House struggling to sell its healthcare plan to the American people, President Barack Obama is going to make the rounds on the Sunday shows — NBC's "Meet the Press," ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," CBS's "Face the Nation" and CNN's "State of the Union" — capped off with a Monday appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

In the spotlight Friday, Mrs. Obama detailed the importance of reform for women who statistically earn less than men and require care for pregnancies and breast cancer prevention and care, among other things, before outlining and defending President Obama's embattled proposal, which she called "pretty reasonable."

The first lady said that healthcare is "very much a women's issue," and she urged the audience to call members of Congress and talk to others to correct the "myths and misinformation about what the plan is and isn't."

"There are always folks who are a little afraid of change," Mrs. Obama said. "Education is the key to understanding."

While Mrs. Obama's healthcare reform push lacked the fiery rhetoric and challenges to opponents of her husband's push, she made an impassioned plea as she parroted the president's call to be "fired up and ready to go."

"The status quo is unacceptable," she said. "It is holding women and families back, and we know it."