Following Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) comments about “legitimate rape,” the Romney campaign issued a statement claiming that it will support abortion in cases of rape and incest. The policy undermined Paul Ryan’s longstanding opposition to abortion services and set Romney apart from the views of most Republican lawmakers.
Earlier this year, for instance, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) included an amendment to the Senate version of the 2013 defense authorization bill “to ensure that military insurance plans cover abortion services in cases of rape and incest, giving military women the same access to abortion care as civilians.” Currently, military insurance plans only offer abortion coverage if the woman’s life is in danger.
The amendment is critical — thousands of servicewomen were likely raped in 2010, potentially resulting in hundres of pregnancies — yet House Republicans this year opposed the measure, fearing that it would “be getting a foot in the door of taxpayer money being used for abortions.” Several Republicans in the Senate backed the Shaheen measure in committee, but the House version of the defense authorization bill didn’t include a similar provision. The Senate has yet to debate the amendment.
Yet given Romney’s articulated support for abortions in cases of rape and incest, the amendment offers him a unique opportunity to turn rhetoric into action and pressure his party to provide servicewomen with the same health care coverage as the civilian women who works in the Pentagon.
As a Shaheen spokesperson told ThinkProgress, “If you support allowing exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, you should support the Shaheen amendment.” The Romney campaign did no respond to requests for comment.