ACLU Calls Upon Congress to Protect the Health and Reproductive Rights of Women in the Military

May 25, 2005 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today called upon Congress to protect the health and rights of women in the military by supporting an amendment that would lift the ban on privately funded abortion services at military hospitals.

“At a time when we are expecting so much from our military women, it is critical that they have every resource at their disposal to meet their health needs,” said Gregory T. Nojeim, Acting Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

Current law prohibits women from obtaining abortion services at U.S. military hospitals, even if they pay for these services with their own private funds. This restriction poses grave health risks for military women and their dependents stationed overseas, as local facilities are often inadequate or entirely unavailable, the ACLU said.

“Current policy discriminates against and endangers servicewomen in the name of political interests,” Nojeim said. “Congress should do everything in its power to protect these women who have committed themselves to serving our country.”

The amendment in question was introduced by Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) and Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) to the Department of Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2006 and is likely to be voted upon today.

Two additional amendments to the Department of Defense Authorization Bill which did not make it out of the House Rules Committee were the Shays Amendment, which would have provided federally funded abortion care in the case of rape or incest, and the Michaud Amendment, which would have made emergency contraception available on all military bases as a pharmaceutical agent covered under the pharmacy benefits program.

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