House Rules Committee To Women In US Military: Raped? Pregnant? No Abortion For You!

The depth of hatred of the GOP House caucus for women, including women in service to the United States military, is scarcely to be believed. In this case,

May 24, 2011

WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Rules today rejected an important amendment to the FY12 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540) that would have ended an unconscionable ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for military women and dependents in cases of rape and incest. The amendment was introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), Robert D. Andrews (D-N.J.), Diane DeGette (D-Colo.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

The United States provides health insurance for members of the armed forces and their families through the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. By federal statute, the department is barred from covering abortion care except when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Unlike the other federal bans on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest. 

(Emphasis mine.)

But of course there was vehement debate of the amendment before it was rejected, right? You must be kidding

And yet, last night, House leadership prevented debate and a floor vote on this important amendment. Never mind that the House will vote on 152 other defense bill amendments; anti-choice members decided that the wellbeing of U.S. servicewomen wasn’t worth 10 minutes of debate.

Dr. Katherine Scheirman, Colonel, USAF (Retired), whose “assignments included oversight of the quality of care provided at Air Force hospitals and clinics in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, has a few things to say about this unconscionable act against servicewomen by the House Rules Committee:

Under current law, the Department of Defense is barred from providing coverage for abortion except where the pregnant woman’s life is endangered. Unlike other federal bans on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape or incest. The current policy is shameful. Our military women, who serve and sacrifice for their country, should not have worse health care benefits than civilians who rely on the government for their insurance coverage.

While the Department of Defense maintains a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault, this crime has reached crisis level in the military. It is estimated that one in three women are sexually assaulted during their military service. This figure is especially staggering when taken into account with under-reporting of sexual assault. The climate of fear and intimidation leading to under-reporting remains an intractable problem, with the FY2010 SAPRO report estimating that only 14 percent of victims of sexual assault report this crime.

Until this hostile, misogynistic policy is rectified, vast numbers of women in the service will inevitably be subject to violation by men without conscience. And the House Rules Committee, in stopping even minimal debate on the matter, is undeniably to blame if the rape produces a child. The committee chair, according to the committee web site, is David Dreier (R-CA 26). Perhaps you have a word or two to say to him yourself.

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