Burris Amendment Would Lead to More Tax-Funded Abortions

Opinion   |   Bill Saunders   |   Nov 30, 2010   |   1:37PM   |   Washington, DC

The pro-abortion forces of the 111th Congress have returned to Capitol Hill with one more shot at forcing American taxpayers to subsidize elective abortions during the “Lame Duck” session of Congress.   

One potential attack comes from an amendment authored by Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), who was appointed to fill President Obama’s former Senate seat, and who has since been replaced by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). 

Under U.S. Code Title 10 USC Sec 1093(b), abortions may not be performed 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.

However, if Congress adopts the amendment authored by Senator Burris, and added to the Department of Defense Authorization bill during the Senate Armed Services Committee mark-up in May, American taxpayers will be paying for military facilities, equipment, and the use of military personnel to perform abortions.

Further, if military physicians and support staff refuse to perform elective abortions, as they did when President Clinton allowed abortions in overseas military facilities from 1993 to 1996, tax dollars will be used to recruit and hire private personnel to perform abortions.  During the Clinton Administration all 44 of the Obstetrician and Gynecologist military physicians stationed in Europe refused, and the physicians in the Pacific soon refused as well.  In fact, at least 200 military physicians have already signed a letter opposing the Burris Amendment.

While abortion advocates argue that this change in the law is not tantamount to taxpayer funding for abortion, it is undeniable that the Burris Amendment would divert federal resources to the provision of elective abortions that should be devoted to life-saving treatments in military treatment centers. 

Furthermore, Secretary Gates has indicated that the Department of Defense needs to “trim” its budget and has specifically said that military healthcare is not a “sacred cow” and will likely also face budget cuts.  Should limited federal funding for military healthcare be used to provide elective abortions – or should it be used to treat the critical needs of military members, their spouses, and their children? 

The underlying message from advocates for the Burris Amendment is that elective abortion is an essential part of health care.  They assert that by denying access to elective abortion at military facilities, we are denying women in the military access to critical care. 

In reality, however, elective abortion is just that – elective.  It is not healthcare and is certainly not comparable to providing the emergency care, inoculations, antibiotics, preventive care, and other medical services truly needed by our service members and their families.  Just like other elective procedures that are not actually healthcare, elective abortions have no place in military treatment centers. 

The sacrifices and inconveniences embraced by men and women in our all-volunteer military are deeply admirable. 

However, a servicewoman who chooses to abort her baby has the same rights and access that any other American woman would have in similar circumstances – if she cannot travel off base for an abortion in the country where she is stationed, she can travel to another country on a military flight on a “space available” basis.  A decision to enter the military does not entitle a woman to a taxpayer-subsidized abortion, just as no other American woman has such an entitlement.