Pro-Life Win: Defense Bill OKd, No Military Hospital Abortions

National   Steven Ertelt   Dec 22, 2010   |   12:36PM    Washington, DC

The pro-life movement has received a significant legislative victory with today’s vote in the Senate passing a Department of Defense funding bill without a change in the policy prohibiting military base abortions.

Earlier this month, the Senate turned back a second attempt by pro-abortion Democrats to stop a Republican filibuster against a Defense Department funding measure that would also allow abortions at military base hospitals.

Subsequently, the House passed a bill, H.R. 6523, that leaves current pro-life law in place and does not contain an amendment offered in the Senate by Senator Roland Burris which would permit the performance of abortions in both domestic and overseas military facilities.

Today, the Senate approved that abortion-free bill with an amendment on an unrelated political issue and, once the House signs off on the changes, it will go to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

That will put the final stamp on a victory that should keep the ban on abortions at military base hospitals in place for years to come — given that pro-life Republicans now control the House and increased their numbers in the Senate. That will likely prevent another attempt to force the performance of abortions at military base hospitals until at least the 2013 session of Congress or beyond.

Two pro-life groups applauded this victory in comments to LifeNews.com:

National Right to Life Committee legislative director Douglas Johnson said:  “NRLC has worked hard to repel Sen. Burris’s attack on a longstanding pro-life policy that covers the Defense Department, and we are pleased with the outcome — in January, Senator Burris will be gone, but the pro-life policy will remain.”

Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser added, “This is one more example of the increased muscle of the pro-life movement.”

“Congress heard the pro-life grassroots activists’ voices and kept abortion out of military medical facilities.  It is time for the abortion industry to stop using the military as a place to advance its agenda,” she continued.

Democrats tried twice to get enough votes to allow a vote on their DOD funding bill with the Burris amendment in place.

Several pro-life groups, including the National Right to Life Committee, the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life lobbied members of the Senate to filibuster the legislation because of the abortion authorization.

In the last vote on cloture, 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.

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 base hospitals to do abortions on female service members. In 2006, the House rejected by a vote of 237-191, an 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.

Sen Roger Wicker 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 pro-abortion Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid would not allow Wicker’s amendment to be considered.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 15-12 for the amendment with all Republicans and Nelson voting against it and all other Democrats voting for it.

Christian Medical Association Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military, previously 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.