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House Leadership Decides Not To Take Up Abortion Coverage for Rape & Incest Survivors in the Military

Currently, servicewomen and military dependants do not have comprehensive health care coverage. They are prevented from choosing insurance that includes abortion coverage because they rely on the federal government for their health care. The only exception to this ban on abortion coverage is in cases of life endangerment. That means that even women who have serious health problems, are raped, or are victims of incest are forced to pay for an abortion out-of-pocket. This applies to both the wives and daughters of members of our Armed Services as well as servicewomen themselves.

Yesterday, Representative Susan Davis, along with several of her House colleagues offered an amendment to the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Act for FY2012 to add exceptions to this ban for victims of rape and incest. Although obviously repealing the ban entirely would be ideal, adding these exceptions would at least bring this law in line with most other federal restrictions on abortion coverage which allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment. It seems that this is the least we can do for those who are sacrificing for our country. The very least.

The House Rules Committee however, does not agree. The Committee did not make the amendment in order, which prevents the House from voting on this issue when the DoD bill comes to the House floor this week. This is despite the fact that this amendment is extremely limited and that sexual assault is known to be a continuing problem in the military.

We don’t know exactly why House members do not want to add these small exceptions to their enormous ban on abortion coverage for servicewomen and military dependents. What we do know is that the Senate will have an opportunity to add the same amendment to their DoD bill next month. Let’s hope that the Senate demonstrates some awareness of the sacrifices our armed services and their families make every day and decides to tackle this discriminatory law.

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