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December 4, 2012

Senate Votes to Lift Military Abortion Ban for Rape Survivors; Focus Now Turns to House

Senate Passes Provision to Ensure Sexual-Assault Survivors Have Abortion Coverage

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded the Senate for adopting a provision sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would lift the ban on women in the military using their health insurance for abortion care in cases of rape or incest.

This past Election Day, women voters went to the polls and decidedly shut down some of the most outrageous anti-choice candidates who oppose abortion even in cases of rape. Congress now has an opportunity to protect rape survivors in our military.

Now that the Senate has passed the FY’13 Defense authorization bill, it will have to conference its version with the House, which passed its bill in May without a similar provision.

“Today, women in the military have come one step closer to winning protections they deserve for reproductive freedom and privacy,” Keenan said. “Denying our heroes access to complete reproductive-health care coverage not only discriminates against them but also endangers their health. Congress has an opportunity to protect and support those who selflessly serve our country. Now it’s up to John Boehner to step up to this task.”

Covering abortion services for military women who survive rape or incest would bring Department of Defense’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 military funding ban places an undue financial burden on female servicemembers and military dependents and may force some women to delay abortion care for several weeks.   

The Obama administration has voiced its support for lifting the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance for abortion care. The administration also voiced its support for lifting the ban on women in the military’s ability to obtain abortion services using their own private funds.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is a longtime leader in advocating for the repeal of the unfair abortion-coverage ban on women in the military. 13,593 NARAL member activists have taken action to support lifting the ban.

 “Women serving our country in the military overseas should have the same access to health care as women here at home, especially in cases of rape or incest,” Keenan continued. “Now the ball is in John Boehner’s court.”

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