By James Tillman

WASHINGTON, DC, June 12, 2010 (—Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) has vowed to block an amendment to the FY 2011 Department of Defense Authorization bill that would permit abortions in military medical facilities.  The amendment would destroy a ban on abortion in military facilities that has existed since 1996.

“Our military facilities should be a place of hope and healing, not intentional destruction of innocent human life,” said Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04). “This amendment will mean that as many as 260 military medical facilities worldwide will now be in the abortion business.”

The outgoing, Blagojevich-appointed Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) introduced the amendment in the Senate Armed Services Committee.  The committee voted 15-12 to include it in the bill on May 27, the same day that they voted to include a repeal of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” (DADT) policy in the military. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) was the sole committee Democrat to vote against the bill. 

Unlike the case of DADT, however, the version of the Defense Authorization bill passed last month by the House of Representatives does not contain language like that of the Burris Amendment.  Smith expects that the House will not accept the legislation if it returns from the Senate with the Burris amendment.

“We will stand very firm,” said Smith. “I believe there will be an overwhelming vote in the House to keep our military hospitals as nurturing centers, not abortion mills.”

In 2006, a similar amendment by Rep. Robert Andrews to allow abortion in overseas military facilities was defeated 237-191.

Some have defended the amendment on the grounds that it both requires women to pay for abortions with their own dollars and does not require doctors to perform them.

“It's only done on a voluntary basis by a doctor,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). “There's no requirement, in other words, that doctors in military hospitals perform the abortions, but it authorizes them [if] they are prepaid, no expense to the government.”

NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations argued similarly, stating that the Burris amendment would “simply repeal the dangerous ban on privately funded abortion care and allow U.S servicewomen to use their own private dollars to obtain abortion services at U.S. military facilities.”

As Rep. Smith told Fox News, however, such a bill would still amount to the subsidizing of abortion.

“When we hire abortionists, when we provide operation rooms and recovery rooms and nurses, all of whom would participate in the killing of that child and wounding of that mother by the way of abortion, that is facilitation, that is public funding,” Smith said.

The 1996 ban, which contains exceptions in case of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother, had been put in place after President Clinton signed a memorandum permitting abortions at military facilities in 1993.  This memorandum was in turn upsetting a Reagan-era ban on abortions in military facilities.

The Senate is likely to vote on the Defense Authorization bill later this month.

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