An amendment authored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and approved in the Senate Armed Services Committee with the help of Republican Sens. Scott Brown, John McCain and Susan Collins, would extend the abortion coverage provided to other federal workers to military women.
It failed to win support last year, but the GOP backing is improving its chances. “We believe that gives it a strong chance for making it to the final law,” said a Shaheen aide.
But while the senator this week is trying to build support for her initiative, abortion foes are vowing a fight.
“Instead of caring about our military women and their health care, abortion advocates in the Senate are, yet again, looking to change longstanding federal law and expand their political power base at the expense of the American taxpayer,” said Kellie Fiedorek of Americans United for Life. “Senator Shaheen’s amendment is nothing more than a strategic means to an ignoble end: unregulated, unrestricted and unapologetic abortion-on-demand, which endangers American women and their unborn children.
Think Progress, a group that supports the amendment, estimates from Pentagon sexual assault reports that about 300 military rapes resulted in pregnancies in 2010.
“Civilian women who depend on the federal government for health insurance – whether they are postal workers or Medicaid recipients – have the right to access affordable abortion care if they are sexually assaulted,” said Shaheen. “It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same.”
The Pentagon is stuck in the middle and said that it will comply with the law.
“Our policy implements the law Congress passed. The department will continue to follow Congressional mandate regarding the funding of abortions and restrictions regarding abortions conducted in DoD medical treatment facilities,” said Defense spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.
She provided the exact details of the law the military follows:
- Section 1093(a) of Title 10, United States Code states:
§ 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.