House Rejects Effort to Allow Abortions at U.S. Military Hospitals

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Rejects Effort to Allow Abortions at U.S. Military Hospitals

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — As it does by narrow votes every year, the U.S. House on Wednesday voted 221-202 in opposition to a proposal to allow abortions at military hospitals, all of which are funded with taxpayer dollars.

Rep. Jim Ryun, a Kansas Republican, led the fight against the proposal and said it would "simply turn our military hospitals overseas into abortion clinics."

Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri agreed. "Our military doctors are supposed to protect lives of our soldiers, not take the lives of babies," Akin explained.

But, Rep. Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, supported the amendment, arguing that current law "denies equal rights to servicewomen just when they need it most."

The Senate is expected to vote this week on a similar measure put forward by Sen. Barbara Boxer, an abortion advocate. Boxer’s measure will also ask that tax funds be used to pay for abortions at the military hospitals.

Current pro-life law prohibits the use of military facilities for abortions. The policy began as an executive order from the Bush administration in the early 1990s and eventually became law in 1996.

President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996 prior to Congress adopting the pro-life law.

During that time, all military physicians — as well as many nurses and supporting personnel — refused to perform or assist in elective abortions. In response, the Clinton administration sought to hire a civilian to perform abortions.

The proposal was put forward by pro-abortion Rep. Susan Davis, a California congresswoman. In previous years the measure was sponsored by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

Last year, both the House and Senate defeated similar measures.

The House sacked the Sanchez measure on a 227-201 vote. In the Senate, pro-abortion Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) offered the amendment and the Senate defeated it by a close 51-48 vote.

The House has rejected the amendment in each of the last seven years.

After the Senate passed the proposal in 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld warned that President Bush would veto the entire defense spending bill unless the provision was dropped. It was deleted in a conference committee.

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