Americans Must Oppose Abortions at Military Bases, Pro-Life Leader Says
by Steven Ertelt
August 18, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The president of a nationwide pro-life group says Americans, regardless of their opinion on abortion, should stand up against a move in the Senate to allow abortions at taxpayer-funded U.S. military base hospitals. Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest talked about the coming battle.
"Every American opposed to taxpayer-funded abortion should be aware of a major legislative battle coming in September," Yoest says. "When the Senate reconvenes, debate is expected to begin on this years Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization bill."
"Last May, when the Senate Armed Services Committee was putting this bill together, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) added an amendment that would strike a provision in the U.S. Code that prohibits DOD medical personnel or facilities from performing abortions
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 15-12 for the amendment with all Republicans and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson voting against it and all other Democrats voting for it.
"The Burris amendment would – simply put – turn U.S. military facilities into abortion clinics," Yoest said.
The Americans United for Life president says the rhetoric coming from abortion proponents is that the Burris amendment doesn’t technically result in taxpayer funding of abortions — but Yoest points out how military bases hospitals are totally paid for by Americans taxpayers in terms of personnel and supplies.
"Advocates for the amendment argue that the change would not amount to taxpayer funding for abortion, but this is completely false," Yoest told LifeNews.com in an email. "American taxpayers will be footing the bill for elective abortions by paying for these military facilities, additional equipment, and the use of needed military personnel to perform abortions."
"Further, more money may be used to search for, hire, and transport new personnel to perform those abortions," she said.
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.
"From 1993 to 1996, when President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities, the administration had to seek out civilians to perform the abortions all military physicians refused to perform or assist in elective abortions," Yoest noted.
Looking to the battle ahead in the full Senate, Yoest said Senator John McCain was able to temporarily stop the bill from moving forward, arguing on the floor of the Senate that abortion now is going to be performed in military hospitals."
"But this was only a delay and the Senator is preparing to lead this fight again in the fall. We expect at least one amendment to be offered on the Senate Floor to strike the Burris Amendment," Yoest said.
Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi led the fight in the committee against the amendment and plans an amendment of his own on the Senate floor to strike the language.
A recent poll conducted July 14-18 by The Polling Company for the Center for Military Readiness and the Military Culture Coalition has bearing on a debate in the Senate as it finds a plurality of Americans oppose that idea.
By a 49-41 percent margin, Americans say they don’t want to see abortions done in the hospitals that treat the men and women of the armed forces. The percentage of voters strongly opposed (42%) outpaced those strongly in favor (26%).
Abortion advocates have tried for years to force military bases hospitals to do abortions on female service members. In 2006, the House rejected by a vote of 237-191 amendment similar to the Burris amendment.
The Burris amendment is more expansive than a 2006 effort because it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.
ACTION: Go to this page to contact your senators and urge opposition to abortions at U.S. military bases. Urge opposition to the Burris amendment and support for the Wicker amendment. https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
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