Guttmacher Releases Policy Review Calling for Better Abortion Access for Servicewomen

By Rachel Walden |

The summer 2010 Guttmacher Policy Review includes a piece, Off Base: The U.S. Military’s Ban on Privately Funded Abortions, which describes current military policy on abortion, including the existing ban on public funding and debate about lifting the ban on privately funded abortions in military medical facilities.

For context, the piece explains:

Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee moved toward restoring abortion rights to some 200,000 active duty women in the U.S. military, by voting to reverse current policy prohibiting the performance of abortions in military facilities, even in cases when U.S. servicewomen pay out-of-pocket for the procedure.The amendment to change the policy was sponsored by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) and is now attached to the pending Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill.

The ban on privately funded abortions was apparently put in place in 1988, lifted by former President Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by Congress in 1995. According to the author, the ban particularly affects servicewomen stationed overseas, where legal abortion may not be available in the country’s own facilities. The author makes an argument that the policy against privately funded abortion in Department of Defense facilities not only strips women of their right to an abortion and endangers their health and safety, but that the policy may have negative effects on the military through the loss of women who would otherwise choose abortion.

As the review’s author states for a related press release:

This debate is not about the morality or legality of abortion, but whether women who enlist in the military, and especially those who are living overseas, should be discriminated against as a result…It’s time that we stop treating women in uniform as second-class citizens by denying them timely access to a legal, Constitutionally protected health care service their civilian counterparts can freely obtain.

Readers may also be interested in another piece from the same policy review, The Potential of Health Care Reform to Improve Pregnancy-Related Services and Outcomes.

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One Comment

  1. Heather Ault says:

    I am very concerned about the rights of servicewomen, in both their access to abortion as well as the continued stigma placed on a legal medical procedure by the U.S. government. What most people don’t realize is that the practices of reproductive control – abortion and contraception – are ancient. They have been found around the world for thousands of years in every society known to humankind. The desire to control one’s own reproduction is fundamentally human and should be a guaranteed human right to all people. Check out http://www.4000yearsforchoice.com for more of this amazing, inspiring story that we should all celebrate!