Published June 06, 2011
Two Democratic lawmakers are calling on Congress to pass legislation that would make it legal for federal funds to be used to pay for abortions for service women who are victims of rape or incest or whose lives would be endangered by a pregnancy.
Rep. Louise Slaughter and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both of New York on Monday announced legislation that they say would put service women on par with other women who get federal funds for abortion services when they face rapes, incest or life risks. That includes, they say, Medicare recipients, federal employees not in the military and women receiving care through the Indian Health Services.
The bill would also allow service women to use private funds to access abortion services at U.S. military facilities.
"As our servicewomen risk their lives defending our country, it is deeply unfair that they are denied the rights of the Constitution that they defend," Slaughter said in a press release. "Imagine being a victim of rape on a United States military base overseas being denied the abortion coverage, and then having to turn to a potentially unsafe local facility. It's preposterous and incredibly unjust to the women who serve our country so proudly each day."
"It is an outrage that the women in our military do not have the same basic protections for reproductive health care as women across the U.S." Gillibrand said. "We must put an end to this egregious injustice and allow our women in uniform to exercise their right to reproductive health care."
According to the lawmakers, 3,158 sexual assaults were reported in 2010 in the military, but the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services says 90 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
But Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said the lawmakers are looking in the wrong direction for increasing access to abortion services. "Medical facilities serving our military are meant to preserve live, not destroy it. Yet this bill would turn military facilities into abortion clinics, using personnel and equipment subsidized by taxpayers. It is time for the abortion industry to stop using the military as a place to advance its agenda," she told FoxNews.com.
Organizations that endorsed the bill include the Service Women's Action Network, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the National Women's Law Center.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story was inadvertently published with unedited raw source materials.