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Clarification On Facts vs. Fiction

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas,
Deputy Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
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June 24, 2010

On June 10 we published a blog post called “Facts vs. Fiction on the Military’s Abortion Ban.” In this piece, we were responding to misinformation about efforts by the Senate Armed Services Committee that we strongly support to remove the ban on private funding for abortions on military bases. It looks like we have a little more misinformation to respond to.

Contrary to what has been suggested elsewhere, the military’s longstanding policy has been to allow health care professionals to refuse to participate in abortion services on the basis of a religious or moral objection. This was military policy before Congress passed the military abortion facilities ban and it remains current policy. The Burris amendment — which proposes simply to lift the ban on privately-funded abortions in military facilities — neither created this refusal policy nor expanded it in any way. The amendment does not change existing military policy, which allows health care professionals to refuse to participate in the provision of abortion services, and we did not intend to suggest otherwise. (Nor, as has also been asserted, does the Burris amendment have anything to do with the so-called “Conscience Rule,” which was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in the waning days [hours] of the Bush administration.)

By lifting the ban on private-pay abortion services in overseas military facilities, the Burris amendment would finally restore comprehensive reproductive health care to military women — this is long overdue and something all of us should support.

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