The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services unanimously voted Tuesday to support an amendment allowing the military's health plan to cover abortions in cases of rape or incest. More than 70,000 emails were sent to Members of Congress asking them to end the ban on abortion coverage for servicewomen and military dependents who had experienced rape or incest.
The following is a note from Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center.
In the past month, you've sent over 70,000 emails to Members of Congress asking them to end the abhorrent ban on abortion coverage for servicewomen and military dependents who have experienced rape or incest. This unfair policy forces them to pay for abortion, unlike their civilian counterparts in the federal government who have insurance coverage of abortion in these circumstances.
Just today, we have received word that this ban will finally come to an end and should be included in a final bill that goes to the President to sign.
With your collective voices, you have made a difference in the lives of thousands of servicewomen and military dependents who sacrifice in order to make our lives safer.
We will have many battles to fight in the future to ensure all women, including servicewomen, are able to obtain — and to afford — essential reproductive health care.
But today, we celebrate a job well done. Thank you so much.
Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights
National Women's Law Center
The amendment is included in the Senate's Department of Defense authorization bill (S 3254), but not in the House version (HR 4310) (Kime, Military Times/USA Today, 12/11). The measure also would authorize DOD to provide abortions at military facilities. The Senate and House versions of the bill have to be reconciled before a final measure can be sent to President Obama (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/5).
The advisory panel recommended that the DOD "affirmatively, strongly and immediately press for passage" of funding for abortion coverage.
Retired Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, a member of the committee, said, "Military women in uniform and military women beneficiaries are not political pawns, and it is totally inappropriate to make this a political game." She added, "At a time when the number of rapes in the military is raising widespread alarm ... it's inconceivable to me that service women who are raped do not receive this important coverage."
Pollock noted that Medicare, Medicaid, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the federal penitentiary system provide abortion coverage in cases of rape. "Military women and beneficiaries are treated differently than any other federal beneficiaries who survive rape and incest," she said.