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November 18, 2011

Lawmakers Seek End to Discrimination Against Women Serving in the Military

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) leads the charge to repeal a ban on military health-insurance programs covering abortion care for servicewomen who survive sexual assault

Washington, D.C. - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded the efforts of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and other senators who are fighting to repeal a law that blocks women from using their military insurance plan to cover abortion care if they survive a sexual assault. 

Current law permits the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide abortion services at military facilities only in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest.  In the tragic cases of rape or incest, the servicewoman must pay out of pocket for care, which means the restrictions on military women’s access to reproductive-health care go even further than on civilian women. 

“Women in the military deserve the same reproductive -health care as women here at home,” Keenan said. “Anti-choice lawmakers are putting politics ahead of servicewomen’s health and safety. These women are fighting for our freedom while being denied their own. I applaud Sen. Shaheen and the other leaders for working to end to this discrimination against women in the military.” 

Covering abortion care for military women who are survivors of rape or incest would bring DoD’s policy in line with current Medicaid law, which provides federal funding for abortion services for low-income women in cases of rape or incest, in addition to life endangerment. The funding ban places an undue financial burden on female servicemembers and military dependents and may make some women reluctant to seek medical services or force them to delay seeking abortion care for several weeks.   

“It’s outrageous for women in the military who become pregnant as a result of sexual assault to be denied the right to the full range of reproductive-health care options, “ Keenan said. “This anti-choice policy only adds insult to injury and it must be repealed.”

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