Servicewomen Deserve Better: Abortion Access in the Military

Repost from Amplify.

It is completely unacceptable that the over 200,000 women serving in our military do not have access to basic health services. The 19,000-23,000 servicewomen who face an unintended pregnancy annually do not have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

Currently, a ban is in place that denies military women access to abortion in cases of rape. Health insurance for service women only covers abortion in cases when the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman. This year, an amendment was introduced to the National Defense Authorization Act to end this ban, but the amendment did not pass.

The majority of people in the U.S. support access to abortion in cases of rape. Also, other women with publicity funded healthcare (Medicaid recipients, civilian government employees) do have coverage for abortion in cases of rape. It is an outrage that women who dedicate their lives to protecting our country do not have access to this common and safe procedure. How can this restrictive and cruel policy make any sense, especially given that sexual assault is more common in the military than among the civilian population? The military should work to decrease incidences of sexual violence within its ranks, and also ensure that after a servicewoman is sexually assaulted she has access to all medical services.

The 1 in 3 Campaign points out that abortion is common and experienced by our families, mothers, sisters and friends. A recent study found that servicewomen seek abortion for the same reasons civilian woman do; they do not have the finical resources to support a child, fear the pregnancy will negatively impact their career, or because they were victims of rape or incest. Because military women do not have access to affordable and safe abortion care, many service women contemplate dangerous methods to end a pregnancy themselves.

Service women dedicate their lives to protecting our country. Some service women even cite their desire to stay on active duty as a reason to seek an abortion. Yet, our government puts their lives at risk by not giving them access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Servicewomen are the only women with publicly funded healthcare that do not have access to abortion in cases of rape. These brave women deserve better, which is why we need to end this ban on abortion coverage now!

Related links:

http://www.ibisreproductivehealth.org/news/index.cfm

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/03/16/90507/reports-of-sexual-assault-in-military.html

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