U.S. military hospitals may soon become abortion mills. On May 27, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed an amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would overturn a long-standing ban on abortions performed in military medical facilities at home and abroad. The amendment was passed by a vote of 15-12 in a closed session. This is another example of a stealth measure that has become a commonplace tactic in a Democratic Congress bent on sneaking through unpopular legislation.
Privately funded abortions on military bases were banned by the Reagan administration in 1988. President Clinton overturned the ban in 1993, but the ban was written into law by the Republican Congress in the 1996 defense authorization. The proposed amendment would alter 10 USC section 1093 to remove this restriction and allow servicewomen to receive abortions in military hospitals if they pay for the procedure themselves.
Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi Republican, painted a grim picture if the amendment becomes law. "The medical facilities of our military installations," he said on the Senate floor, "will be able to be used for abortions performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason, abortions performed at will."
The amendment was introduced by Sen. Roland Burris, Illinois Democrat, who shamelessly pegs the measure to the war on terrorism. A Burris spokesman said that women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan face special burdens seeking abortions, and that "if you're not able to get access to services on base, you're at the mercy of whatever medical services are out there. It's a pretty dangerous scenario."
It is an even more dangerous scenario for the unborn babies who are better protected under current law. Abortion proponents stress the perils women might face in countries where abortion is illegal, medical facilities are substandard or the security situation makes it too dangerous to go outside bases. But a safe alternative for all concerned already exists, namely taking leave to come home and give birth. This preserves the baby's life while not forcing women into potentially hazardous circumstances. Women in uniform already have this option. Pregnant women are not forced out of the service, though they may separate voluntarily if they wish. They receive six to eight weeks of maternity leave and are not eligible for deployment for four months after the birth of their child. Having a baby imposes no professional liabilities on America's military moms.
A Congress more sensitive to the sanctity of life would craft legislation that would make the process even easier. Making abortion readily available at military medical facilities creates imminent peril for the unborn and decreases the incentives for pregnant troops to do the right thing. American military hospitals exist to keep our warriors healthy and to care for those who get sick or are wounded. They should not be used to abort the next generation of service members.
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