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Democrats Pushing to Fund Abortions on U.S. Military Bases

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/13/12 1:15 PM

National

Democrats in Congress are pushing hard to force Americans to fund abortions at military base hospitals with their taxpayer dollars. Current U.S. policy prohibits taxpayer funding of such abortions, except if the mother’s life is in danger, but Democrats want to fund abortions in cases of rape or incest.

Senate Democrats approved a defense funding bill with a pro-abortion amendment attached to it that would allow for taxpayer financing of abortions, while House Republicans approved similar legislation with the current pro-life policy in place.

Now, the bills head to a conference committee where pro-life Republicans and pro-abortion Democrats will fight it out over which language will appear in the final version of the bill that will eventually go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, commented on the current impasse.

“It’s not the deal most Americans are waiting for, but Congress is days away from agreeing on a final Defense Authorization bill. That could be particularly significant for social conservatives, who have a big stake in the finished product,” he explains. “For the past 16 years, the military has had the most life-honoring laws of any federal government department. Despite FRC’s efforts, that could all change this week if conferees agree to new exceptions on the DOD’s abortion law. Since the Clinton administration, the Defense Department’s rule has been to finance abortions — only to save the mother’s life.”

“Today, Congress is considering a major break with military policy and weighing whether or not to funnel taxpayer dollars to abortions in the cases of rape and incest as well,” Perkins continues. “Although victims of sexual assault are free to pursue an abortion privately, taxpayers have never been forced to fund them.”

“While the issue is a sensitive one, we believe abortion is never a loving solution for the mother or the child. The circumstances surrounding a pregnancy from rape or incest are extremely difficult, but one brutal act of violence against a woman doesn’t justify the government encouraging a second act of violence against an unborn child. Everyone has a right to life — even those whose lives begin in horrible situations like these,” Perkins explains.

He said the Family Research Council is encouraging members of Congress to retain the current pro-life policy.

Current law in effect since 1996 prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or at DOD medical facilities. A separate provision prohibits the use of DOD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.

The issue of abortions done at military base medical centers has been around for two decades. When ex-President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, all military physicians (as well as many nurses and supporting personnel) refused to perform or assist in elective abortions. In response, the Clinton administration attempted to hire civilians to do abortions.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a pro-abortion New Hampshire Democrat, is behind the effort to pay for abortions.

“This is about equity,” Shaheen said. “Civilian women who depend on the federal government for health insurance — whether they are postal workers or Medicaid recipients — have the right to access affordable abortion care if they are sexually assaulted. It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same.”

Backers of the amendment are using the issue of sexual assaults in the military as platform for pushing lifting the abortion funding ban, by saying that women military members who become victims of such assaults and wind up pregnant should be able to have an abortion of their unborn child paid for at taxpayer expense.

Horace Cooper, an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy, told the Air Force Times he doesn’t think abortion funding will remain in the bill.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Cooper said. “We don’t minimize [sexual] assaults when they happen, and in particular when they happen to people who are enlisted or wear the uniform, but at the same time it’s just unfair to argue that this is the crisis du jour. … This is part of expanding pushing abortion and trying as much as possible to find circumstances to use taxpayer dollars to do it.”

The Senate voted on a similar effort to promote tax-funded abortions at U.S. military base hospitals in 2010. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid couldn’t find enough votes for cloture to stop debate and cast a vote on the legislation, but brought the measure up for a vote anyway.

His first attempt in September to get 60 votes for cloture failed as Republicans filibustered the measure in part because of the Burris amendment that would overturn a longstanding ban on abortions at taxpayer-funded military hospitals both domestically and abroad. The second effort failed on a 57-40 vote with all Democrats voting for cloture to move ahead with the bill and the abortions, except for Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who compiled a pro-life voting record as the state’s governor. Republicans again voted no, with pro-abortion Republicans staying with the remainder of their party except Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Previously, Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, told LifeNews.com his group supports the ban. The Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life have also actively urged senators to oppose the bill because of the Burris amendment.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded to the vote saying Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid ignored the vote in the 2010 elections.

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“Today, the Senate’s pro-abortion leadership ignored the will of the American people and tried to advance a bill that would allow taxpayer-subsidized abortion on over 400 U.S. military bases, both at home and abroad.  On November 2, voters sent Congress clear marching orders to end taxpayer funding of abortion.  But the Defense Authorization Bill containing the Burris Amendment would turn over 400 domestic and international military bases into abortion clinics, using personnel and equipment subsidized by taxpayers.  Medical facilities are meant to preserve life, not destroy it.  Military physicians understand this better than anyone which is why they refused to participate when the practice was permitted during the Clinton Administration, forcing the Administration to recruit civilian abortionists.”

Christian Medical Association Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military, previously told LifeNews.com that allowing abortions on military bases is inappropriate.

“If enacted, requiring military physicians to perform abortions threatens military readiness. Morale will suffer among those already serving. Morale is a key component of military effectiveness,” he said. “Furthermore, just as we have seen a marked decrease in young doctors entering OB/Gyn training for fear of being forced to do abortion, this requirement will discourage young doctors from joining the military.”