Amendment to overturn ban on abortions at military facilities causing a stir

A provision to defense authorization bill S.3280 that would allow for privately financed abortions to servicewomen at military hospitals is coming under heavy scrutiny from both Democratic and Republican pro-life advocates, reports the New York Times. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) sponsored the amendment, which passed a Senate Armed Services Committee vote late last month and would overturn the current law preventing abortions at military facilities, regardless of funding status. 

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) and a host of Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Scott Brown (Mass.) have already come out publicly against the bill. According to the Times, opponents maintain that taxpayer dollars would ultimately be going toward the procedures since they would be performed at government facilities. 

Those who support the amendment, including Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, argue that servicewomen stationed overseas have the right to the same access to care that every other American woman has at home. "It's an issue of basic fairness," Richards told the Times

An anonymous former, unmarried Marine who became pregnant and attempted to self-abort in Iraq in 2006 disclosed to the Times that becoming pregnant ultimately "ends any career advancement" opportunities because women who become pregnant overseas (primarily in war zones) are sent home almost immediately after finding out. "The military doesn't forgive you," she said.

The amendment is similar to a memorandum signed by Bill Clinton in his first year as President that allowed privately funded abortions to take place at military facilities. By 1996, however, Congress overturned the ruling, passing a "blanket ban" on abortions at military facilities, other than in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life. 

To learn more:
- here's the New York Times article
- read this Medical News Today piece
- here's bill S.3280

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