Senate Votes Tuesday on Bill Allowing Abortions at Military Base Hospitals

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 20, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Votes Tuesday on Bill Allowing Abortions at Military Base Hospitals

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 20
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — The Senate is slated to vote this week on the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which includes a provision to allow abortions on military base hospitals both domestically and abroad. The Senate will vote on a motion filed by pro-abortion Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.

He will ask lawmakers to stop the filibuster against the bill and approve a motion to proceed to a vote on the measure.

Most Republicans, potentially joined by a couple of Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, are expected to oppose the Reid cloture vote motion and continue with their strong opposition to the bill.

Several pro-life groups have been working actively to urge pro-life advocates to contact their senators to oppose the bill and support the filibuster against it.

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List emailed her group’s members today telling them to "Please call your Senators right now, and tell them to vote against the bill if it contains language allowing abortion on military bases."

"Military doctors did not want to perform abortions for the few short years this practice was legal during the Clinton Administration, and they don’t want to now," she said. "In fact, before the law was overturned, they were about to hire outside doctors to perform abortions because no military doctors would participate."

The conservative, pro-family group Eagle Forum is also highlighting the pro-abortion measure for its members.

"The Defense bill contains an amendment offered by Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) to strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the U.S. Code and will permit the performance of abortions in both domestic and overseas military facilities," it explains. "Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest."

"Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are working hard to stop this bill," Eagle Forum says. "Please call your Senators today and urge them to join this fight by voting NO on Cloture on the National Defense Authorization Act."

Tim Wildman of the American Family Association also sent his membership an alert to contact senators to have them oppose the bill.

He complained the measure would "turn every U.S. military hospital in the world into an abortion clinic."

"It is urgent that you call your senators immediately. We need to burn up the phone lines into Washington, D.C. to say that this must not happen on our watch," he said.

On the other side, NARAL president Nancy Keenan is hoping to get members of the pro-abortion organization on the phone, too.

"We are so close to ending a law that blocks women in the military from accessing abortion," she said. "The Senate is close to ending this dangerous abortion ban, but we need you. Send an email to your senators calling on them to pass the bill repealing this ban."

"We already won one round – when a Senate committee voted to repeal the ban," Keenan continued. "But round two will be tough. Anti-choice senators are trying to stop us. We expect our opponents to use every chance they get to change the bill when the full Senate votes and keep the abortion ban in place. They’ve already rallied their anti-choice activists. The attacks are not going to stop."

The Defense Department bill contains an amendment allowing abortions at all worldwide U.S. military base hospitals.

The amendment, sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Rolland Burris of Illinois, would have the military break with current longstanding policy disallowing abortions.

Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi led the fight in the committee against the amendment and planned an amendment of his own on the Senate floor to strike the language. However, it appears the Reid motion will not allow Wicker’s amendment to be considered.

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.

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.

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.

In August, more than 200 physicians who have served U.S. soldiers signed a letter to members of the Senate protesting the Burris amendment. The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association organized the letter and urged lawmakers to vote no on the National Defense Authorization Act unless the Burris amendment is removed.

CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military, told 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."

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.

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 filibuster.


Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.