During a press conference Thursday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and two high ranking retired military officers said that giving women in the military the same access to health care that civilians, federal employees, and female inmates have is a matter of equity and fairness. Right now, the Department of Defense is prohibited by law from including coverage for abortions in the case of rape or incest in military insurance plans, denying members of the military affordable access to healthcare in a time of need.
Under an exception to the Hyde Amendment, which limits the use of federal money to fund abortions, civilians enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health Services and non-military federal employees all have access to an affordable abortion in the case of rape or incest, or if the life of the woman is in danger. Even inmates in correctional facilities enjoy the same access to an affordable abortion (except in the case of incest). Military members only have access to an affordable abortion if the life of the woman is in danger.
Retired Army Major General Gale Pollock and Retired Army General Dennis Laich, representing the Stand with Servicewomen coalition, joined Sen. Shaheen in support of giving service members the same rights to affordable health services as the civilians they protect.
Pollock: It makes me incredibly angry to know that our servicewomen and military wives and daughters, who all serve and sacrifice for their country, lack the same coverage civilian women have in the wake of sexual assualt. While we appropriately show federal employees, women in prison, and women enrolled in Medicaid compassion if they become pregnant as a result of rape, Congress has said to our servicewomen, ‘You’re on your own.’ This is wrong.
Laich: Women compose almost 15% of our military today, serving with courage and distinction in every branch of service. Lifting this ban is not only a matter of basic fairness, it’s also a matter of ensuring military readiness. As more and more service members learn of this unjust ban, the morale of our troops will suffer, adversely affecting recruiting and retention….The health and wellbeing of our military depends on our willingness to care for service members no matter the circumstances.
Sen. Shaheen sponsered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to allow the military to fund abortion in the case of rape or incest that was approved by the Senate Armed Forces Committee 16–10, including the votes of three Republicans. The NDAA awaits action on the Senate floor.
— Alex Brown