This week the Senate Armed Services committee approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that eliminates the ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for military women and dependents who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
This was the second time Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the amendment. Anti-choice senators originally blocked it from being heard last November when the NDAA was first enacted.
Under the current law, the Department of Defense only offers insurance coverage for abortion services to military women when their lives are at risk. They do not provide such coverage in the case of pregnancies from rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly or birth control failure.
Of the nearly 400,000 women in the military one in three will be sexually assaulted while serving. There’s a significant amount of justice in finally moving on amendment.
The full measure now heads to the Senate floor for passage.
Despite the fact that this is a significant step in the right direction for women in the military, we need to be clear about what the Shaheen amendment provides. The amendment simply mirrors the Hyde Amendment which means that military-provided insurance plans now have the same health care options as civilian women with government health care plans. So while this is good news for military women because they or their dependents will no longer be forced to pay out of pocked for an abortion after rape or incest, the reality remains that access to affordable abortion care remains out of reach for many of the women who need it most and collectively this country has decided that is acceptable.
Photo from The US Army via flickr.