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New House bill would allow military to perform, fund abortions

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Vaneesha Vallabh-Patel and Ruth Henkes administer injection at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Jan. 27, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Jason W. Edwards)
June 06, 2022

On Friday, dozens of Democrat lawmakers introduced legislation to allow military medical facilities to pay for and perform abortions for troops and their dependents regardless of the status of Roe v. Wade.

The MARCH for Servicemembers Act is sponsored by more than 80 lawmakers, including members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus and Pro-Choice Caucus, a press release stated.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, argued that the bill would protect “abortion care” for service members even if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.

“If Roe is overturned, abortion will quickly become illegal in 26 states. Women serving in the military experience unintended pregnancy rates 22 percent greater than civilians, and many are stationed in states that will overturn Roe. Many also don’t have the luxury of traveling off-base, thousands of miles and for days at a time, to pay out of pocket to receive the care they need and deserve. The fallout for our servicemembers and their families will be catastrophic, as is the threat to our military readiness, morale, and unit cohesion,” Speier argued in a statement.

“Abortion care isn’t a privilege, it is standard health care essential to one’s ability to determine their own destiny. One in four women in America will have an abortion in her lifetime, and 59% of women who have abortions are already mothers,” she continued. “Our brave servicemembers deserve the same access to basic health care as the people they are fighting to protect.”

Before the legislation was proposed, the Army was reportedly exploring a policy change to allow service members to request a transfer from their assigned base if they were negatively affected by the state and local laws, according to last month.

The proposed military abortion legislation comes after Politico published a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showing the majority of the justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that federally protects abortion.

The leaked 98-page document dated Feb. 10, 2022 and denoted “1st Draft” is authored by Justice Alito, who says, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” The draft opinion confronts the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that challenges Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.