Senators Give Abortion a Green Light in Overseas Facilities

The Senate Armed Services Committee has reversed a long-standing ban on performing abortions in overseas military medical facilities.

Let the protests resume!

Such emotionally charged controversies like this are rare, but we’ve got a hot one here, ladies and gentlemen, and one with quite a history.

Before the 1973 Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade, the U.S. military was performing abortions in military medical facilities.

When the U.S. stopped the federal funding of abortions in the late 1970s, the procedure ceased in stateside military facilities. Eventually abortions were stopped overseas, with those on either side of the issue deeply divided. The rules prohibiting abortions in military facilities were formalized in 1985.

Less than a decade later, political leaders quietly allowed women to have privately funded abortions in military facilities. This 1993 initiative never really accomplished what supporters had hoped. The word was doctors refused to perform them, but who really knows? In 1995 the ban was reinstated, but it now made exceptions for the unholy trinity of rape, incest and life of the mother, though the first two had to be funded privately. (Are not all fetuses created equal or does this approach judge the morals of the pregnant military female? Inquiring minds.)

Fast forward to the present. An amendment to a defense bill was passed by a vote of 15-12 allowing privately funded abortions in overseas military facilities. Some report the final bill faces a filibuster in the full Senate. The House bill did not contain this provision, and its defense bill has already passed. If the Senate bill passes their version of the defense bill with the amendment, the two houses will reconcile their differences later this summer. House lawmakers have introduced similar legislation year after year, only to see it die in committee.

It is interesting that while abortion remains legal in the United States, a privately funded procedure (funding the physician, procedure room, anesthetics, etc.), is not permitted in federal facilities. Is there a lawsuit lurking? The Senate proposal seems reasonable, fair and within the law.

Our guess is a law permitting abortions in overseas military medical facilities will not pass. Lawmakers’ priority this year seems to be the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law governing the service of homosexuals in the military.

Another guess: Lawmakers will sacrifice service women’s access to this legal procedure to garner DADT votes.

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