It’s no secret; I did not love Governor Shaheen. I hated the way she handled the death penalty and the state income tax actually passed by the legislature. But, that was then. I’m pretty crazy about US Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Republican Senators John McCain, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins all support an effort by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, to expand abortion access for military women who are raped. But despite bipartisan support in the Senate, Shaheen’s proposal may not make it into the final version of the 2013 defense authorization bill-because House Republicans oppose it.
Really, GOP? REALLY? This is just unconscionable.
If Shaheen’s measure passes, military families will finally have the same access to abortion that other federal employees already receive. Unlike the rest of the federal government, the Department of Defense currently only provides abortion coverage if the life of the mother is at stake. Under current law, if a State Department employee is raped, her government health insurance plan will pay for an abortion if she wants one. But if an Army medic serving in Afghanistan is raped and becomes pregnant, she can’t use her military health plan to pay for an abortion. If she does decide to get an abortion, she will have to pay for it with her own money. And if she can’t prove she was raped-which is difficult before an investigation is completed-she may have to look for services off base, which can be dangerous or impossible in many parts of the world.
“We have more than 200,000 women serving on active duty in our military,” Shaheen tells Mother Jones. “They should have the same rights to affordable reproductive health services as all of the civilians who they protect.”
It’s even more unconscionable when one considers that one in three military women are raped by their own fellow soldiers.
The way things are is that efforts have been made for years to get this grotesque, ruthless inequity off the books. But Congress hasn’t budged. Sen. Shaheen tried to change the law for the 2012 budget without success. Her amendment then and now would permanently allow servicewomen to obtain safe and affordable abortions on their bases or through the military’s health network. The Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act would require Tricare, the military’s health insurance, to cover the cost of abortions in the case of rape or incest. It would also allow servicewomen to obtain abortions for other reasons at military health centers if they pay for them out of their pockets.
Thank you for continuing to fight for our military women, Senator Shaheen.