- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The U.S. military operates dozens of hospitals and hundreds of clinics here and abroad. If Planned Parenthood and Senate Democrats have their way, those taxpayer-funded facilities will become America’s newest abortion centers.

In late May, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an 11th-hour amendment by Democratic Sen. Roland Burris of Illinois to overturn the long-standing restrictions on abortion in military hospitals during the committee’s work on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act and after protracted debate on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The Burris amendment passed on a party-line vote with one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voting no. While Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings directed attention away from the Defense authorization bill, Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan has called for this issue to be dealt with as soon as possible after the Senate returns from August recess.

Under current law, Department of Defense resources may be used for emergency abortions to save the mother’s life and in cases of rape or incest, restrictions first added to the U.S. Code in 1984 and 1996.

Elective abortions, on the other hand, have been disallowed in military hospitals for decades, with the exception of a brief period when President Clinton reversed the policy in January 1993, only to have Congress vote to restore it in 1995. Under current law, military women are free to leave the base and make their own private arrangements for an elective abortion.

Mr. Burris‘ amendment would overturn current law so that elective abortions are performed in U.S. military clinics and hospitals by military personnel, putting the armed forces in competition with Planned Parenthood as the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Critics of the current law say their biggest concern is sexual assault in the military, but this is highly disingenuous, as current law provides a specific exception allowing the use of military facilities to abort a child conceived in rape.

They also cite Iraq and Afghanistan and complain that abortion laws in those countries limit off-base abortion options. But this, too, is meant to deceive. If this were the real concern of Mr. Burris and his allies, he could have crafted his measure to address it. Instead, he took a bludgeon to current law across the board so that the greatest impact would be felt right here on U.S. soil, where abortion is virtually unlimited throughout pregnancy and 1.2 million children are aborted every year.

No, the real goal of this abortion maneuver is to use the military to accomplish radical social change - to mainstream abortion, to press the government into providing it on a widespread scale so that it becomes respectable and ordinary. Forcing the military into the abortion business would be a major face-lift for an ugly industry.

This is consistent with President Obama’s view on abortion. Remember, he sees abortion as intrinsic to basic health care that should be funded by the government. That was his promise to Planned Parenthood on the campaign trail, and if Congress approves the Defense authorization bill with the Burris amendment intact, he surely will sign it. Forcing the military into the abortion business would be one giant step closer to the mainstreaming of federally funded abortion.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse is senior fellow for legal studies at the Family Research Council.

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