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Jeanne Shaheen
Jeanne Shaheen has led the effort in the Senate to get insurance coverage for servicewomen who are raped, become pregnant and choose to have an abortion.
The U.S. Senate passed an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act Tuesday that would provide insurance coverage for abortions for servicewomen who are raped and become pregnant. The fact it's taken so long to get this far is a friggin' outrage. And the fight is not yet won. The House of Representatives must agree, and it has blocked the change in coverage in the past.  

It's really a simple matter of fairness and justice. But anytime abortion is included in the equation, nothing is simple. In the conference committee that will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA, the amendment will face opposition.

Right now, military women who are victims of rape and become pregnant and choose to have an abortion must pay for it out of their own pockets. That's because their health plan doesn't cover it, which is the way the forced-birther crowd would love to keep things. Health insurance for civilian employees of the federal government and for Medicaid recipients covers abortion services when pregnancy is a consequence of rape. If you work for the State Department and are raped, you're covered. If you're in the Army, too bad for you.

The restriction was first passed in 1979, allowing for abortion coverage only when the woman's life is at risk.

Backed by the coalition organized under Stand with Servicewomen, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been the point woman in this fight that should never have been a fight. The New Hampshire Democrat said:

Regardless of whether certain members have an ideological opposition to abortion, she says, military women should be given the same level of health care coverage as civilians after they have been sexually assaulted.

"It's simply unfair that we've singled out the women who are putting their lives on the line in the military," she said. "We have young women who are starting out making $18,000 a year, and they just are not able to deal with this situation on the private side when it happens to them."

The problem the amendment now faces is that there is no counterpart in the House. Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington told reporter Laura Bassett that he will seek the Senate amendment's inclusion in the House version of NDAA.

In June, a Republican staffer on Capitol Hill told Army Times:

Historically, social provisions that are not reflected in both bills heading into conference don’t survive. Amendments like this have come up several times.

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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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