December 1, 2011 — Senate leadership on Wednesday said it will not allow a vote on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's (D-N.H.) amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would have lifted the ban on military health coverage for abortion care in cases of rape and incest, the Huffington Post reports.
Under current policy, women in the military are allowed to use their health coverage to pay for abortion care only if their lives are at risk. Most civilians with federal health insurance -- including federal employees and Medicaid beneficiaries -- can use their health plans to cover abortion care in cases of rape or incest. Federally funded abortion services also are available for federal prisoners in cases of rape.
Shaheen said, "This policy is fundamentally unfair to the more than 200,000 women serving in our military." She added, "They are fighting to protect our rights, and they should have the same rights to reproductive health care as our civilian employees." Shaheen said she is disappointed the Senate will not debate the issue this week but stated that supporters will "keep fighting for it as long as we have to."
Earlier this year, the House Rule Committee refused to allow floor debate on a similar amendment. According to the Department of Defense, more than 3,000 sexual assaults, one-fourth of which were rapes, were reported in the military in fiscal year 2010. DOD estimates that 86% of rapes in the military go unreported (Bassett, Huffington Post, 11/30).