Democrats File Bill for Tax-Funded Abortions at Military Bases

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 20, 2011   |   5:41PM   |   Washington, DC

Taxpayers should be on the hook for abortions done on women and unborn children at military base hospitals, according to new legislation several Senate Democrats filed in order to advance an agenda item they’ve pushed in the past.

Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey joined with fellow Democrats Kirstin Gillibrand of New York, Barbara Boxer of California, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Patty Murray of Washington that would pay for the abortions of women in the military.

“Women who bravely choose to serve our country in the military shouldn’t have to forfeit their rights,” Lautenberg said. “When military hospitals fail to provide reproductive health services, women serving in foreign countries are left without access to safe and legal health care. This is unjust treatment for our servicewomen that must be brought to an end.”

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. The MARCH for Military Women Act would lift the current bans and abortion advocates have tried for years to force military base hospitals to do abortions on female service members.

Backers of the bill are using the issue of sexual assaults in the military as platform for pushing lifting the abortion funding ban, by saying that women military members who become victims of such assaults and wind up pregnant should be able to have an abortion of their unborn child paid for at taxpayer expense. The legislation already has the endorsement of pro-abortion groups like the National Abortion Federation, the ACLU, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which has become a more active abortion proponent, also endorses the bill.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Louise Slaughter, a pro-abortion Democrat from New York.

The Senate voted on a similar effort to promote tax-funded abortions at U.S. military base hospitals last year. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid couldn’t find enough votes for cloture to stop debate and cast a vote on the legislation, but brought the measure up for a vote anyway.

His first attempt in September to get 60 votes for cloture failed as Republicans filibustered the measure in part because of the Burris amendment that would overturn a longstanding ban on abortions at taxpayer-funded military hospitals both domestically and abroad. The second effort failed on a 57-40 vote with all Democrats voting for cloture to move ahead with the bill and the abortions, except for Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who compiled a pro-life voting record as the state’s governor. Republicans again voted no, with pro-abortion Republicans staying with the remainder of their party except Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

The increase in the number of pro-life and Republican votes in the Senate after the 2010 elections makes it all but certain that abortion activists will not be able to overturn the military hospital abortion ban.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, told his group supports the ban. The Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life have also actively urged senators to oppose the bill because of the Burris amendment.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded to the vote saying Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid ignored the vote in last month’s elections:

“Today, the Senate’s pro-abortion leadership ignored the will of the American people and tried to advance a bill that would allow taxpayer-subsidized abortion on over 400 U.S. military bases, both at home and abroad.  On November 2, voters sent Congress clear marching orders to end taxpayer funding of abortion.  But the Defense Authorization Bill containing the Burris Amendment would turn over 400 domestic and international military bases into abortion clinics, using personnel and equipment subsidized by taxpayers.  Medical facilities are meant to preserve life, not destroy it.  Military physicians understand this better than anyone which is why they refused to participate when the practice was permitted during the Clinton Administration, forcing the Administration to recruit civilian abortionists.”

Americans United for Life Action president Charmaine Yoest also responded:

“We applaud the outstanding leaders in the Senate who led the fight to win today’s key vote rejecting taxpayer-funded abortion in the military. They stood on principle and scored again a major victory for our service members and their families. We know that more than 70 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and this vote reflected the moral and fiscal values of Americans.”

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 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.