Shaheen Reinforces Commitment to Servicewomen

Posted on June 7, 2012

NARAL Pro-Choice, June 7, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces gathered to bolster support for an amendment authored by the senator that would lift the ban on servicewomen using their military health-insurance plans to cover abortion care if the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault.

The Senate Armed Services Committee recently adopted the amendment, as part of the Department of Defense (DoD) FY’13 authorization bill that now will move to the full Senate.

Retired military officials have joined a group called Stand Up for Servicewomen. A retired army captain who belongs to the group called the Shaheen amendment an important step forward for women serving our country.

“Servicewomen promise to support and defend the Constitution and our country,” said Cindy McNally, Chief Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force (Ret.). “It’s unconscionable to turn our backs on them in their time of need. We owe it to them — and to ourselves — to get this one right.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, emphasized the importance of lifting the ban on abortion coverage for military women who have survived a sexual attack.

“It’s time to end discrimination against our servicewomen and provide them with the same care women receive here at home. We salute Sen. Shaheen and these military leaders for speaking out for women serving our country,” Keenan said. “Protecting those who serve our country falls in line with our American values. It is a tragedy that this commonsense policy is continually subjected to political attacks.”

Covering abortion 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 coverage ban places a financial burden on female servicemembers and military dependents and could force them to delay seeking medical services for several weeks.

Keenan also noted that her organization is committed to ensuring that the policy is implemented fully and fairly, and will activate its more than one million member activists to support Sen. Shaheen’s amendment.

Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

Posted in: United States