Even though abortion is legal in the United States, current policies prevent women who serving in the military from obtaining an abortion in American military facilities, even if they are using private funds (yup, their own money). This new analysis from the Guttmacher Institute explains 40 years of policies around servicewoman and access to abortion services. Believe it or not, the policies were more liberal in 1970′s than they are now.
Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) sponsored an amendment earlier this year to restore abortion rights to some 200,000 active duty women in the U.S. military by voting to reverse current policy. The amendment is now part of the pending Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill.
The analysis notes that junior servicewomen who make only approximately $23,000 a year are among the hardest hit, especially if they are serving in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted meaning that they would have to travel for the procedure. It also points out the difficulties servicewomen face in using contraceptives consistently, on top of the fact that sexual assaults are increasing and sexual harassment is pervasive. According to Guttmacher expert Heather Boonstra,
“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.”
Does it make sense that our servicewomen who are putting their lives on the line for this country lack the same rights of female U.S. civilians? Not so much. See the full article here.