Media Matters Taken to Task for Misleading on Abortion-Military Hospital Debate

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

Media Matters Taken to Task for Misleading on Abortion-Military Hospital Debate

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 20
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Americans United for Life is taking the liberal "media watchdog" Media Matters to task today for a misleading attack on one of its staff attorneys. The squabble concerns the bill the Senate will vote on that will overturn the ban on abortions at taxpayer-funded U.S. military bases.

The bill doesn’t authorize taxpayer-funded abortions — women would spend their own funds for the abortions — but having them done at taxpayer-funded military base hospitals means taxpayer funds would be involved in procuring the abortion.

Today, Media Matters incorrectly asserted that Denise Burke, AUL Vice President of Legal Affairs, “falsely claim[ed]” that the Department of Defense Authorization bill provides taxpayer funding for elective abortions in an editorial carried by the Washington Times.

"Abortion proponents intend to use the U.S. military as a platform to advance their broader ambitions for unfettered and taxpayer-funded abortion on demand," she wrote. "Their current weapon of choice is the Burris Amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. This legislation would permit military hospitals, military personnel and taxpayer dollars to be used for elective abortions."

Media Matters responded to Burke’s piece saying, “[W]hile the Burris amendment would allow abortions to be performed in Defense Department facilities, patients would be responsible for covering the cost of the procedures.”

It quotes Senator Burris saying his amendment "will allow ‘servicewomen and their families to elect to have on-base procedures at their own personal expense.’”

But AUL responds saying taxpayer funds will be involved, if not directly then at least indirectly, in the abortions.

"Apologists for the Burris amendment argue that no taxpayer dollars will be expended to provide for elective abortions, servicewomen will pay “personal funds” for the procedure, or the payment of an “administrative fee” will be required for abortions," the pro-life legal group notes.

In fact, the price a woman would pay for the abortion would not likely offset the entire costs of making the abortion available and doing it.

"However, it is doubtful that any ‘fee’ will cover the military’s actual costs for providing the abortion," AUL noted.

"Once you factor in the costs of a physician’s and other medical personnel’s time, the use of an operating suite and equipment, pre-surgical and post-surgical care, and, in some cases, transportation costs where a facility at a particular military installation (primarily, smaller installations with medical clinics as opposed to a fully-staffed hospital) is not staffed or able to provide the abortion, it is highly unlikely that any payment by a servicewoman for an abortion will cover all of the costs," it said.

"Further, one needs to factor in costs of training military physicians to perform abortions or, more likely, the costs of finding and paying civilian providers to perform abortions as more than 200 military physicians have already expressed their opposition to Burris and they are unlikely to agree to participate in abortions (and other providers will follow suit)," AUL continued.

AUL also says Media Matters’ discussion of abortion access overseas creates the misleading impression that the Burris Amendment only applies to military bases overseas. In fact, the Burris Amendment applies to U.S. military bases as well.

"Unlike President Clinton’s 1993 Executive Order, the Burris Amendment applies equally to military facilities in the U.S. and those overseas. Thus, the biggest impact of Burris will be felt right here at home. This is a key point that is being lost in the debate," AUL says.

"Further, the second component of this argument – that servicewomen stationed overseas do not have access to abortions and military medical facilities must be used to correct this problem – is misleading as well. Even a cursory review of overseas U.S. military installations reveals that abortion is generally and often readily available in countries where our servicewomen are stationed," AUL continues.

AUL says the only nations where abortion is generally not available off base is in Middle East nations. However, women stationed in these locations may travel to other countries on military flights on a space-available basis to obtain elective abortions – negating one of the reasons abortion advocates say the ban should be dropped.

Related web sites:
AUL Responds to Media Matters –


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