Some Good News: Abortions Insured and More Available To Military Rape Victims


The military spending bill signed by President Obama at the end of December contained a provision that will change the lives and careers of the estimated several hundred women in the armed forces who become pregnant as the result of rape at the hands of fellow soldiers. (Last year, only 471 were reported.) Since 1988, military insurance have only financed abortions for female soldiers if the woman’s life was in danger, which was visibly unjust even before it became clear via episodes like the one at Lackland Air Force Base that there was an epidemic of military rape. Not anymore.

After a number of failed proposals in the last two years, a reform effort on military abortion attached to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act has finally gone through, thanks largely to the efforts of Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “[These] are [women] who want to make the military their career, and [they are] ultimately forced out because of a situation that was not of [their] making,” she has said of these women’s plight, adding that many of them are overseas and only make $18,000 a year; they should not have to risk their financial status or their health in order to procure an abortion.

But we’re not quite there yet: the next obstacle for Shaheen and Congress is to bring down the long-held ban on providing abortions to servicewomen in military hospitals, a rule that stands even if they pay out-of-pocket, with the exception of rape, incest or lifesaving necessity. New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Louise Slaughter will be reintroducing legislation to this effect.

‘A Barrier Drops for Military Women’ [NYT]

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