House Says No Again to Allowing Military Doctors, Hospitals to Do Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Says No Again to Allowing Military Doctors, Hospitals to Do Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 11, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives said no to a pro-abortion amendment that would have had military doctors and hospitals performing abortions. Abortion advocates introduce the amendment every year as Congress debates legislation funding the Defense Department.

The U.S. military currently prohibits doctors from doing abortions at military medical facilities except in the rare cases or rape or incest or to prevent the death of the mother.

Rep. Robert Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced the amendment this year to change that and allow abortions for any reason. He co-sponsored the proposal along with three pro-abortion California lawmakers to amend the Department of Defense Authorization (H.R. 5122) bill.

The House ultimately rejected the proposal on a 237-191 vote — an even wider margin than last year’s 233-194 vote to prohibit military abortions.

Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America, applauded the vote saying, “Our brave men and women in uniform place themselves in harm’s way to protect the United States and to save lives every day."

"To allow abortions in military medical facilities would send a mixed message. Turning these places into abortion clinics will detract from their intended purpose of healing," she said.

Douglas Johnson, of the National Right to Life Committee, agreed and told, "We are happy that the House has once again rejected the proposal that U.S. government facilities should be utilized to provide abortion on demand."

Some 30 Democrats joined most of the House Republicans in voting against the military abortion proposal while 23 Republicans joined most House Democrats in supporting it.
Retired Army Sgt. Pauline Keehn, who writes frequently on women in the military, says she supports the abortion ban. She first entered the military in 1971 before the abortion ban was instituted.

"[As] I saw the complications it caused … I was glad to see the restrictions placed on abortions," Keehn told Newsday last year.

She added that lifting the abortion ban would require the military to keep doctors trained in performing abortions on staff — something that’s not needed and takes funds away from other important priorities.

"There are enough problems already surrounding the issue of pregnancy and its effect on deployment. Add the equation of those who choose abortion, and you have a logistical nightmare waiting to happen," Keehn said.

The pro-life policy on abortions at military bases began as an executive order from the Bush administration in the early 1990s and eventually became law in 1996 when the Republican Congress attached it to a military funding bill that Bill Clinton signed.

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.

President Bush has made it clear he would veto any Defense Department legislation that included allowing military base abortions.

Approximately 15 percent of American military personnel are women. According to the Department of Defense, only four abortions were performed in 2003.

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