- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Abortion proponents recently launched the opening salvo in a carefully orchestrated war on the U.S. military. Their aspirations for our armed services and American law and policy are alarming.

Abortion proponents intend to use the U.S. military as a platform to advance their broader ambitions for unfettered and taxpayer-funded abortion on demand. They will accept nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the American public to their radical agenda.

To effectively counter their attacks, we need to understand their likely battle plan and future strategic objectives.

Their current weapon of choice is the Burris Amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation would permit military hospitals, military personnel and taxpayer dollars to be used for elective abortions. Disguising their true ambitions, abortion advocates disingenuously argue that they are championing the rights of American servicewomen rather than crassly advancing their own political agenda.

The truth is that abortion advocates care little for military women or their health care. Instead, they are hoping to expand their political power base at the expense of our men and women in uniform. If American taxpayers can be forced to pay for and facilitate abortions at military hospitals, then, logically, why can’t they be compelled to do the same in their own hometowns?

If the Burris Amendment is adopted, abortion advocates will almost certainly begin to argue that American servicewomen, as a result of taxpayer subsidization, have better and more comprehensive access to abortion than their civilian counterparts and that this “inequity” must be addressed. Their preferred weapon to counter this perceived injustice will be taxpayer-funded abortions across the board and more money in the coffers of abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.

In 1993, President Clinton issued an executive order lifting the long-standing ban on elective abortions in military medical facilities overseas. This four-year “experiment” proved to be an abject failure. Military physicians and other uniformed medical personnel refused to participate in abortions, and military officials were forced to waste precious resources in an effort to locate civilian providers willing to perform abortions at military installations. Congress later reinstated the original ban.

The Burris Amendment will likewise result in failure. More than 200 military physicians already have signed a letter urging Congress to resist abortion advocates’ fevered efforts to introduce elective abortion into military medicine. These providers and others are likely to refuse to participate in abortions once again.

What will be the response of abortion advocates to this inconvenient, but not unexpected, development?

The response will be the second salvo in the war on military health care. This likely will take the form of efforts to rescind existing Department of Defense and service-specific directives protecting health care freedom of conscience. If they cannot convince military health care providers to participate voluntarily in abortions, they will force them to do so.

Abortion advocates such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the right of health care providers to follow their consciences and decline to participate in abortions. Accordingly, they have made the repeal of laws protecting conscience one of their top policy priorities. The refusal of military health care providers to knuckle under to the demands of abortion advocates will give rise to a spiteful and coordinated attack on the constitutional rights and freedoms of medical providers - all in the name of “choice.”

They also may launch a separate assault on the failure of Tricare, the military’s health insurance provider, to cover elective abortions. At both the federal and state levels, abortion advocates routinely introduce legislative initiatives and file baseless lawsuits in an effort to force taxpayers to subsidize insurance policies that provide abortion coverage. You need look no further than the recent debate over health care reform to gauge the likelihood of such an attack.

If abortion advocates can succeed in crushing the freedom of conscience of military health care providers or in forcing the military’s insurance provider to cover elective abortions, they certainly will use the resulting precedent to coerce the entire federal government and the 50 states to do the same.

Rather than an altruistic attempt to help our servicewomen, the Burris Amendment is, in reality, a strategic means to an ignoble end: unregulated, unrestricted and unapologetic abortion on demand. As such, it is a clear and present danger to the unborn and to our cherished freedoms.

Denise M. Burke is vice president of legal affairs with Americans United for Life and a 14-year veteran of the U.S. military.

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