The Senate Armed Services committee approved an amendment on Thursday to eliminate restrictions on abortion funding in military medical facilities. The provision would allow the military to fund abortion care in cases of rape and incest. Currently, the Defense Department only offers abortion services to military women when their lives are in danger with no exemptions for cases of rape or incest.
Supporters of the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), said removing the restriction is a matter of fairness for military women:
Supporters argue that it would simply provide parity between civilians insured by the government and uniformed service members. [...]
“This is about equity,” Shaheen said. “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.”
Shaheen’s provision would mirror the Hyde Amendment, which allows Medicaid funding for abortions in cases of rape and incest, so women with military-provided insurance plans would have the same health care options as civilian women with government health care plans.
And because nearly one in three women will be sexually assaulted while serving in the military, Shaheen’s amendment expands access to necessary services so that women do not have to pay out of pocket if they seek abortion care after being rape.
Now that the committee has approved the measure — with three Republicans voting for it — it heads to the Senate floor. When Shaheen introduced this amendment last year, anti-choice senators blocked it from being considered.