Last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-10 to approve an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, introduced by Senator Roland Burris, will repeal the current ban which prevents servicewomen from obtaining an abortion on a military base, even if they use their own money. Although the Burris amendment will allow women to use private funds to pay for abortion care in military hospitals, it does not change the policy prohibiting federal funding for abortions.
This ban is not only unjust, but puts women’s lives at risk. By restricting access to abortions, the government deters women from exercising their right to choose. Vania Leveille, who is a member of the ACLU Legislative Counsel, notes that:
“There are hundreds of thousands of women serving in our military who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms yet they are prevented from exercising their own reproductive freedom. Servicewomen stationed overseas are disproportionately affected by this ban. Allowing American servicewomen to use their own private funds to obtain abortion care at U.S. military facilities is fundamental and should never have been questioned in the first place.”
Naral Pro-Choice America, one of the advocacy groups who approached Burris to sponsor the repeal, calls the ban “outrageous and unfair”. This ban discriminates against military women by denying them their right to a safe and legal abortion. Women who are courageously fighting for their country should not be denied access to the full range of reproductive health care options available to women in the United States just because they are in a foreign country.
As Burris notes, “It is critical that we provide the highest quality care” which “includes allowing women and their families the right to choose at facilities operated under the Department of Defense.” NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland commends Senator Burris as well as the Senate Armed Services Committee for helping to repeal this unjust ban!