Late Breaking News
With the Majority of Military Pregnancies Unintended, Abortion Issue Raised Again in Congress Cont.
Controversy Over Abortion bill
Gillibrand and Slaughter said, in introducing their bill, that health care coverage of abortion in the case of rape or incest is already afforded to other women receiving health care from the federal government, including Medicare recipients, federal employees not in the military and women receiving care through IHS.
They say women serving overseas are perhaps most affected by the current policies, as they may be forced to rely on unsafe local facilities or having to request permission to leave their combat mission to seek an abortion in a different country where care is available.
They also said in a news release on their bill that DoD’s statistics show that 3,158 sexual assaults were reported in the military in fiscal year 2010 and that the about 213,000 women in the active-duty military “should not have to fight to receive medical services such as an abortion.”
“It is an outrage that the women in our military do not have the same basic protections for reproductive health care as women across the U.S.” Gillibrand said in a statement regarding the legislation. “We must put an end to this egregious injustice and allow our women in uniform to exercise their right to reproductive health care.”
Anti-abortion organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List, however, condemned the measure.
“Medical facilities serving our military are meant to preserve live, not destroy it,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement. “Yet this bill would turn military facilities into abortion clinics, using personnel and equipment subsidized by taxpayers. It is time for the abortion industry to stop using the military as a place to advance its agenda.”
Congress Debates Abortion in the Military
In another recent effort to alter the abortion policy Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and five other House Democrats submitted an amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would have reversed the current policy of prohibiting abortion coverage to military women who are raped, but that measure did not advance.
Another attempt was made last year, known as the “Burris Amendment,” that would have lifted the current ban. Before the amendment was ultimately rejected, it found an audience at the Senate nomination hearing for Jonathan Woodson, MD, to be the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who opposed the Burris amendment, said at that hearing that he thought performing abortions at military facilities would take medical personnel away from treating the wounded servicemembers and their families. He wanted to know whether Woodson agreed.
“There is no telling how many abortions our already taxed personnel and already strained facilities would have to accommodate, even though, theoretically, the abortion would be paid for by private sources or private insurance. … Next year, if we perform 1,300 abortions in military facilities — doctor, that is going to take personnel away from treating our wounded servicemen or treating their families. Isn’t that correct?”
Woodson said he could not answer the question.
“I can’t speak to that directly, because I would have to do some analysis of personnel and where they are at. Also, we would have to consider the specialty that is involved in that procedure and see the numbers that are available,” Woodson responded.
Section 1093(a) of Title 10, United States Code outlines current law regarding abortion:
§ 1093. Performance of abortions: restrictions
(a) Restriction on Use of Funds. — Funds available to the Department of
Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother
would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
(b) Restriction on Use of Facilities. — No medical treatment facility or
other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion
except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to
term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
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