Defense Department Funding Bill is Abortion Free After Bush Veto Threat

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Defense Department Funding Bill is Abortion Free After Bush Veto Threat Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 10
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — The bill in Congress that spells out spending for the Department of Defense has emerged from markups in both subcommittees and the full House committee and is abortion free. The emergence of the bill without any abortion funding riders comes on the heels of a threat from President Bush to veto the bill.

The president recently indicated he would veto any legislation that overturns his policies or federal laws that prohibit federal taxpayer funding of abortion.

Though the bill doesn’t fund abortions, there is a chance pro-abortion lawmakers could propose amendments to it on the House floor and pro-life advocates are carefully monitoring the process.

Current federal law says that military medical facilities in the Department of Defense are only allowed to spend public funds on abortions to prevent the immediate death of the mother. Private funds can be used for abortions in cases of rape or incest.

Every year abortion advocates attempt to overturn the policy and force military hospitals to do abortions in all cases and pay for them with taxpayer money. The House last voted in May 2006 and ultimately rejected the pro-abortion amendment on a 237-191 vote.

That vote was a wider margin than 2005’s 233-194 vote to prohibit military abortions.

The pro-life policy on abortions at military bases began as an executive order from the first Bush administration in 1989 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.

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.

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

Related web sites:
See how your Representative voted in 2006 by going to