Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, made the health care debate personal Wednesday, citing her son's lengthy hospitalization in a speech on the House floor protesting the Republican move to repeal the health care law.

Describing her son as "a husband and a wonderful father of two," Woolsey told colleagues he had just spent more than six weeks in the hospital and returned to his Petaluma home last week facing a lengthy recovery.

Woolsey said her son's family "still has a huge challenge ahead of them (and) would not have a chance without health care -- the health care coverage that they have."

In a phone interview, Woolsey, who was elected in November to her 10th term in Congress, declined to give her son's name or to describe his condition.

"This has nothing to do with them personally," Woolsey said, referring to her family. "This is about health care reform."

She said her son has health insurance.

The health care law approved by Congress last year, over solid Republican opposition, provides coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people.

In her brief floor speech, Woolsey said the repeal bill "goes in precisely the wrong direction." Instead of strengthening the health care bill, which Woolsey advocated, "my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want to tear it apart."

The House voted 245-189 to repeal the law Wednesday, largely along party lines. But the vote is symbolic because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has said he will not bring it to a vote and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto any repeal.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, also voted against the repeal measure. He said the repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit and shorten the life of Medicare by 12 years.

"Today I voted against the repeal of the health care law because it would hurt small businesses, families, and seniors in our district," he said in a statement.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or