Friday, June 24, 2011

Democrat Senators revive bid to legalize abortion on military bases

by Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 23, 2011 ( – Several Democrats in the U.S. Senate have introduced a bill that would eliminate the longstanding federal prohibition on abortion in military bases, and allow military funds to cover abortion in cases of rape and incest.

The “MARCH for Military Women Act (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health)” (S 1214) is being sponsored by U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Patty Murray (D-Mich.).

The measure would allow servicewomen to obtain elective abortions on US military bases (both domestic and overseas) so long as they paid with their own money.

A federal ban on abortions in military medical facilities has been in place since 1996, when Congress overturned a 1993 memorandum issued by President Bill Clinton allowing abortions to be performed on base. Clinton’s order revoked a Reagan-era ban on military bases facilitating abortions. 

Laughtenberg, one of the MARCH Act’s sponsors, nevertheless characterized the bill as preserving the right of a U.S. military woman to abort her child.  “Women who bravely choose to serve our country in the military shouldn’t have to forfeit their rights,” Lautenberg said in a statement. 

The New Jersey Democrat said that military hospitals that fail to provide abortion leave U.S. servicewomen “without access to safe and legal health care.” He called the situation “unjust.”

The bill has already been read twice in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has already introduced companion legislation (HR 2085) which has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services. The measure has 44 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

The measure is not likely to advance in the House where a pro-life majority (mostly Republicans) holds sway.

During last year’s debate over the Burris Amendment (which was eventually struck out of the FY 2011 defense authorization bill), pro-life Republicans warned the bill would amount to public funding of abortion.

US Rep. Chris Smith, co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, noted that if the Burris amendment became law “as many as 260 military medical facilities worldwide will now be in the abortion business.”

“When we hire abortionists, when we provide operation rooms and recovery rooms and nurses, all of whom would participate in the killing of that child and wounding of that mother by the way of abortion, that is facilitation, that is public funding,” Smith told FOX News at the time.

The “MARCH for Military Women Act” is endorsed by a number of abortion advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Abortion Federation, American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Service Women’s Action Network, National Partnership for Women & Families, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, and the National Women’s Law Center.

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