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And last year, a group of House and Senate Democrats introduced the legislation nearly identical to the amendments Mrs. Shaheen offered. The DOD announced that it supported the bill, saying it would make the military rules more consistent with other major abortion-funding restrictions in federal law.

This year, pro-life leaders say they’re surprised that Mr. McCain voted to tack the Shaheen amendment onto the defense bill, warning an abortion fight could jeopardize legislation essential to funding the U.S. military.

“It’s a little surprising to see Sen. McCain voting for it, because it opens the door to all these further complications on the underlying bill, which I think he would want to avoid,” Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.