Democrats to Push Bill After Elections Allowing Abortions at Military Base Hospitals
by Steven Ertelt
September 28, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Democrats are expected to push a bill in the Senate after the elections that would authorize abortions at taxpayer-funded military base hospitals. The bill is one of a couple dozen measures they plan to seek votes on during the lame-duck session after an election that is expected to result in gains for pro-life advocates.
The aggressive lame duck session is expected because Democrats will likely lose a large number of votes in both the House and Senate — or potentially control of one chamber or both — on Election Day to pro-life Republican candidates.
Sensing that potential result, Democrats are ramping up efforts to hold votes on a slew of bills before the start of the next Congressional session.
Democratic leaders have prioritized the defense authorization bill as one of the top pieces of legislation for the lame duck session.
Senate Democrats will not be able to push for the Defense funding bill and its authorization for military base abortions without opposition.
Sen. Jim DeMint, a pro-life South Carolina Republican, warned on Monday that he would block all legislation that has not been agreed to by both parties by the end of the day today.
"The Executive Committee of the Senate Steering Committee has asked the Steering Committee staff to hold all bills that have not been hotlined by close of business Tuesday," Bret Bernhardt, DeMint’s chief of staff, said in an email according to Politico.
The block essentially means that DeMint will filibuster any legislation he doesn’t support — requiring Democrats to obtain 60 votes to clear the bill and its pro-abortion provision.
That would likely kill the legislation, because Democrats were unable to get the 60 votes for the bill on a vote last week.
Democrats voted almost unanimously, 56-43, to allow debate on the bill and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who maintains he is pro-life, joined them. Republicans unanimously voted in opposition to ending the filibuster, including pro-abortion members who wanted the chance to offer amendments to the bill.
The Defense Department bill contains an amendment allowing abortions at all worldwide U.S. military base hospitals. Sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Rolland Burris of Illinois, it would have the military break with current longstanding policy disallowing abortions.
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 base hospitals.
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, pro-life groups urged a filibuster against the bill because it appears pro-abortion Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid 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.
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, told LifeNews.com he was pleased by the vote.
"This is a victory for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform. At least for now they will not be used to advance a radical social agenda," he said. "We applaud Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator John McCain and Senator Jim Inhofe for their successful efforts to stop this legislation which would … turn our military hospitals into abortion clinics."
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 LifeNews.com 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.
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