The Department of Defense currently grants abortion access to women only if their life is at stake, which stands in stark contrast to all other federal employees, who are granted abortion access in the tragic event of a rape.
New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen would like to change this disgusting discrpancy, and her amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act - granting military women abortion access in the case of rape - has recieved bipartisan support and approval from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
And yet, the House GOP is planning to block Shaheen's amendment. Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones reports:
Republican Senators John McCain, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins all support an effort by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, to expand abortion access for military women who are raped. But despite bipartisan support in the Senate, Shaheen's proposal may not make it into the final version of the 2013 defense authorization bill—because House Republicans oppose it.In 2011, U.S. military reported 471 cases of rape, a statistic that likely represents a mere fraction of the actual number or rapes which occured. (The Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office estimates that only 13.5 percent of all rapes and sexual assaults are reported, and estimates are that hundreds of military women became pregnant last year due to rape.)
Under current law, if a State Department employee is raped, her government health insurance plan will pay for an abortion if she wants one. But if an Army medic serving in Afghanistan is raped and becomes pregnant, she can't use her military health plan to pay for an abortion. If she does decide to get an abortion, she will have to pay for it with her own money. And if she can't prove she was raped—which is difficult before an investigation is completed—she may have to look for services off base, which can be dangerous or impossible in many parts of the world.
"We have more than 200,000 women serving on active duty in our military," Shaheen tells Mother Jones. "They should have the same rights to affordable reproductive health services as all of the civilians who they protect."
And yet, it appears certain that Shaheen's amendment will be blocked by House Republicans when the Senate and House bills are reconciled. According to a GOP staffer working close on the issue, such abortion access for military women "stands little chance of surviving," and likely won't be included in the House bill:
"Historically, social provisions that are not reflected in both bills heading into conference don't survive," the staffer said—conceding that the House version of the defense bill will not include anything like Shaheen's proposal.It is diffuclt to wrap my head around the mind of an individual -- much less a lawmaker -- who would balk at giving such access to women who are serving in our military, access to which those civilians they are protecting and serving already have.
This is truly a war on women being waged under the guide of social conservatism, under the guise of fundamentalism.
Rather than protect those women who are risking their lives and sacrificing their families to serve our country, the House GOP -- as an establishment -- is choosing to protect their own flanks by bowing to the fundamentalist streams rampant within today's conservative base.
It is a sickening display that not only reveals the ethical hypocracy rampant among today's Republican leadership, but reveals that Republicans truly do not give a shit about the welfare or basic rights of women.
Not even those who enlist to safeguard those rights.
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