LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The right to on-base abortion

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Cathy Cleaver Ruse’s Wednesday Commentary column, “Mainstreaming abortion on-base,” shows an alarming disregard for the health and welfare of our military women, particularly for those serving abroad.

More than 100,000 servicewomen and soldiers’ wives and daughters live and serve overseas, many of them in locations where the only place to get safe medical care is on base. They ought to have the same options available to them as any woman facing an unintended pregnancy and the opportunity to make the best decision for themselves and their families - whether that decision is to raise the child, give up the child for adoption or abort the fetus. Under the current system, even if they pay with their own money, these women cannot get abortion services unless their lives are in danger or they are willing to disclose that they were raped.

Lacking any other options, many of these women may take desperate measures, including attempting to self-abort; some may be forced to separate from their unit against their will and return home, often at great personal expense.

The amendment proposed by Sen. Roland W. Burris, Illinois Democrat, would lift current restrictions and allow servicewomen and military dependents to pay for safe abortion care on base. This is not only the right thing to do, it is the just thing. We will continue to encourage the Senate to follow Mr. Burris’ lead and trust the women who voluntarily serve our country to do what is right for them and their families.

VANIA LEVEILLE

Legislative counsel, American Civil Liberties Union

Washington

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