Forty-nine members of the United States House of Representatives have signed onto a bill that would lift the ban that prohibits taxpayers’ dollars from funding abortions to women in the military. Led by Representative Louise Slaughter (NY-D), the resolution seeks to amend the provision in Title 10 of the U.S. Code that forbids federal funds from paying for abortions. H.R. 2085, the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act, also known as the MARCH for Military Women Act, would alter the U.S. Code to allow federal funds to pay for abortions.
Title 10 of the U.S. Code explicitly restricts the use of federal funds for abortions for servicewomen and the use of military facilities for elective abortions. Legislation was proposed in June and was referred to the House Committee on Armed Services that would overturn the law banning abortions in the case of rape or incest. The bill has not moved since June 24th, but NARAL Pro-Choice America is pushing legislators to advance the bill through Congress. NARAL’s website urges their supporters to send letters to members of Congress urging them to support the bill. In the letter to legislators, NARAL stated that “the bill would provide compassionate care to servicewomen overseas who survive sexual assault. It would also lift the ban that blocks women in the military from using private funds to access abortion services at U.S. military facilities.”
Various limits have been imposed on the use of federal funds for abortion for the U.S. military since 1978. In 1984, Congress codified a permanent ban in Title 10, Section 1093:
(a) Restriction on Use of Funds.— Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
(b) Restriction on Use of Facilities.— No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
H.R. 2085 proposes to amend the language by inserting ‘or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest’ into part (a). The bill also proposes to strike all language in section (b). Striking section (b) would allow overseas medical facilities on U.S. military bases to perform the abortions that are now barred.
The danger of striking the language opens the door for all abortions for servicewomen and military families to be funded at the expense of taxpayers. All members of the United States military receive health care through a federally funded insurance program. Removing these restrictions could potentially allow family members of active duty members of the military to procure abortions (i.e. wives and daughters).
If a woman in the military desires an abortion, she is required to pay for it using her own funds and at a facility off the military base. Many abortion clinics surrounding bases offer military discounts because of the restrictions. If women in the military are survivors of sexual assault they, like all women, deserve respect and compassion when overcoming the attack, but abortion is not the answer if pregnancy is the result of the crime.
Texas boasts the largest military population in the country. Fort Hood is the largest employer in the state of Texas. If the military’s federal health insurance plans begin covering abortion, it is not inconceivable that under new health care regulations, the government could require all federal employees’ health insurance to cover abortion. The amount of federal dollars that would be spent to pay for abortions of servicewomen would increase as well as the number of abortions performed.
If H.R. 2085 passes, taxpayers’ dollars will be used to fund military facilities’ performing abortions on women in the service, and military dependents, at home and abroad. Protecting our servicewomen from the horrors of abortion, and the American people from funding them, is crucial to preserving the Culture of Life.
Pro-abortion Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are trying to push the amendment's companion bill through the Senate.