Friday May 28, 2010

U.S. Senate Committee Oks Amendment Ditching Military Abortion Ban

By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 28, 2010 ( – In a closed committee mark-up Thursday, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) successfully offered an amendment that would break with current longstanding policy and permit the performance of abortions in both domestic and overseas military facilities.

The amendment, which passed by a vote of 15-12, would strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the US Code, which states: “No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.” The law has been in place since 1996.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment.

A similar amendment to allow abortions in overseas military facilities was most recently offered in the House in 2006, when it failed by a vote of 191-237. The Burris amendment is more expansive than the 2006 amendment, as it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.

The amendment will face further scrutiny by both House and Senate lawmakers before it has a chance of becoming law.

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who led the opposition to the amendment, decried “another piece of social engineering” and the misuse of taxpayer funds “that are there for the care of our service members to keep them healthy and to repair their injuries.”

“If this stands, our military installations, Fort Bragg, Columbus Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base in my home state of Mississippi, their medical facilities will be able to be used for abortions, performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason,” said Wicker. “Abortion-at-will will be the requirement for our military installations and the medical facilities on those installations.”

Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. There is no distinction in this policy between military facilities within the United States and those overseas. A separate provision prohibits the use of Department of Defense funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.

“The Burris amendment will effectively turn our military medical facilities into abortion clinics and force American taxpayers to underwrite the use of military facilities, the procurement of additional equipment, and the use of needed military personnel to perform abortions,” said one Capitol Hill source.

When President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, noted the source, military physicians, as well as many nurses and supporting personnel, refused to perform or assist in elective abortions; in response, the administration sought to hire civilians to do the abortions.

“If the Burris amendment were enacted, not only could taxpayer funded facilities be used to support abortion on demand, but resources could also be used to search for, hire, and transport new personnel simply so that abortions could be performed,” stated the source.

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