Wednesday, June 13, 2012

House Republicans hinder abortion access for raped soldiers

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It’ll be interesting to see what kinds of rationalizations House Republicans present to square their long-trumpeted championing of the U.S. Military with their opposition to a bill that would remedy one of the biggest problems plaguing thousands of servicemembers:

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.

If Shaheen's measure passes, military families will finally have the same access to abortion that other federal employees already receive. Unlike the rest of the federal government, the Department of Defense currently only provides abortion coverage if the life of the mother is at stake. 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."

It’s not as if we needed more evidence that the only thing anti-abortionists care about are fetuses, blithely forsaking the grown women who bear and deliver them and the hardships and health risks involved. Thousands of soldiers, male and female alike, are raped every year, with the only outcome for countless victims being dismissed as “crazy” and kicked out. And meanwhile, all the Republican establishment and its supporters see fit to do is to play the victim-blaming game – ’cause all them raped women don’t have no business being in the armed forces, anyway.

(via @radleybalko)