Repeal Ban on Abortion Services to Military Women
Please use this link to send a message to members of your Congressional delegation as soon as possible, urging them to support a repeal of the ban on abortion services at overseas military hospitals for military women and dependents who are victims of rape and incest. An amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is contained in the fiscal year ?05 Defense Department authorization bill, which will be finalized soon in conference committee. We are concerned that abortion rights opponents who may be appointed to the conference committee may move to delete that important provision, so we need to put pressure on all members at this time.
Urge your senators and representative to insist that the Boxer/Snowe amendment is retained in the final billuse this link to send an email or compose one of your own. If you have time to put a call into your members? offices, that is even more effective; you can find their office numbers here. And thanks for responding to this urgent request for help.
Servicewomen and military dependents are currently prohibited from obtaining abortions at overseas military hospitals, even if they pay for the services themselves. This unfair, dangerous ban applies even in cases of rape, incest, and threat to maternal health. Denying our servicewomen stationed overseas the same rights that women are afforded at home is completely unacceptable and hypocritical. Why should these women fight to protect our freedom when they are not afforded those same rights?
The ban is especially reprehensible considering the prevalence of sexual violence in the military. In one study by the Iowa Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 30 percent of female U.S. military veterans reported having been raped or suffered a rape attempt during their military service.
In June, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) were able to attach an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would allow servicewomen and military dependents to receive abortion-related care if they are the victims of rape or incest. A similar provision has not been included in the House version of the defense bill.
The House will soon announce which of its members will participate in a conference committee for the FY?05 defense authorization bill; the Senate has already appointed conferees. Once the House names conferees, differences between House and Senate versions will be negotiated. We are concerned that abortion rights opponents will attempt to delete the Boxer/Snowe amendment from the final bill.
It should be emphasized that there should not be any ban at all: Servicewomen and military dependents should have the same constitutional rights at U.S. military hospitals overseas as they would at a hospital or clinic in their home town. This ban, adopted by a right-wing anti-abortion rights majority in Congress in 1996 and later supported by an anti-abortion rights administration, risks the health and lives of military servicewomen and the female dependents of all service members stationed abroad. These women are now forced to turn to hospitals and clinics in less developed regions of the world which may not have safe medical procedures.
NOW has supported every effort in Congress to repeal this reprehensible ban. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) offered an amendment in July 2003 to repeal the ban and lost, but the more moderate Senate is now backing a limited repeal, thanks to Sen. Snowe and Sen. Boxer (and to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who has offered repeal amendments in the past).
Again, please use this link to urge your senators and representative to support a repeal of the ban on abortion services at overseas military hospitals for military women and dependents are who victims of rape and incest.