Abortion in the Defense Authorization Bill

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/imcomkorea/3060352942/sizes/m/in/photostream/">Morning Calm News</a>/Flickr


Women in the military have volunteered to serve the nation—but, if they’re the victims of rape or incest, current US policy does not permit them to obtain an abortion under military medical insurance. Now, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is leading an effort to change this policy through an amendment to the pending National Defense Authorization Act.

Under the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, no federal money can be used to provide abortion services. The rule provides an exception in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life—an exception that other federal policies, including the Affordable Care Act, also include. But, under current policy, the 400,000 women in the service covered under the DOD’s Military Health System can only use their insurance for an abortion if their lives are at risk.

According to the DOD, there were 3,158 military sexual assaults reported in 2010—and outside studies have estimated that as many as 75 percent of are raped do not report it. Without coverage through military insurance, those women are often forced to pay out of pocket and seek services off base.

The ACLU is pushing for the passage of the Shaheen amendment, along with a number of retired military officers. That includes retired Lieutenant General Claudia Jean Kennedy, who served for 31 years and was the first female three-star general in the Army. The abortion restrictions are particularly hard on women who lack seniority and are paid less, Kennedy told Mother Jones. “It is not fair. It’s not about whether you think she should have this choice,” she said. “You give this choice to everyone but her—her civilian counterparts have this choice.”

“This woman is mature enough to be recruited into the military, trained, and deployed,” Kennedy continued. “This is the minimum, to give women the medical care they ask for.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.