Defense Bill Amendment Would Authorize Abortions at Military Hospitals
Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 10 to add an amendment to the defense spending bill last week that would expand abortion access to women seeking care at US military hospitals. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), would overturn a ban on abortion access at military medical facilities that was instituted in the mid-1990s. According to the Post-Dispatch, two senators voted across party lines: Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted against the amendment and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted for the amendment.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release, "The vote repealing this discriminatory and dangerous ban is the first step to ensuring that servicewomen can use their own private money for abortion care when they are serving overseas."
Until recently, emergency contraception (EC) was also not available at US military base health facilities worldwide. The Pentagon authorized providing EC at these facilities in February 2010. This change is a result of a recommendation from the Pentagon's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which voted in November 2009 that both Plan B and generic Next Choice should be included on the basic core formulary, a list of medications that are required to be stocked at all military health facilities. EC is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use. EC does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
Media Resources: Post Dispatch 5/28/10; Planned Parenthood Press Release 5/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/5/10