An amendment offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that extends reproductive health services to servicewomen was approved yesterday by the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be included in the National Defense Authorization Act. Under the amendment, armed servicewomen will be granted the same rights as civilian women under federal policies that provide affordable abortion care to women who are the victims of rape or incest. Under the current policy, servicewomen are only eligible for abortion care if the woman’s life is at risk.
Senator Shaheen said in a press release from Stand with Servicewomen, “This is about equity. 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. It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same.”
The Armed Services Committee approved the amendment in a 16-10 vote. It will now go to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. According to the press release, there are almost 214,000 women serving in the military and servicewomen who are sexually assaulted are often forced to seek unsafe abortion care.
Stand with Servicewomen Press Release 5/24/12; Huffington Post 5/24/12; Air Force Times 5/24/12