Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, has introduced legislation that would require all FDA-approved birth control and abortion pills and devices be made available at no cost to women in the military. Sens. Patty Murray, D-WA, and Harry Reid, D-NV, also acted as sponsors.
“Female service members deserve access to the same basic health care as the women they protect and it’s unacceptable that they don’t,” Shaheen, whose amendment to expand abortion coverage for military women became law in 2013, said in a statement this week.
The 2014 bill, called the “Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014,” requires no co-pay for military women for all 20 FDA-approved birth control and abortifacient drugs and devices.
“Giving women in the military access to basic preventative health care, including contraception and family planning counseling, will strengthen our military as a whole,” she says. “And it will make sure that women who get their health insurance from the military never have to worry about how they’re going to pay for their contraception.”
Currently, female servicemembers are required to provide a co-pay if they order contraceptives and abortifacients at retail pharmacies and by mail.
Abortion groups and several retired military officials have supported the bill. The heads of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, among others, praised the expanded contraception access, with NARAL President Ilyse Hogue declaring,”Senators Shaheen, Reid and Murray have come to the defense of our military servicewomen and families with legislation that will ensure access to the comprehensive health care they deserve, including birth control and accurate family-planning counseling.”
In their statements of support for the Act, Shaheen, Hogue, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and others failed to differentiate between the 16 contraceptives approved by the FDA and the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients also approved by the FDA. Coverage of these four drugs and devices were what the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood opposed in their recent lawsuit to the Supreme Court.
Likewise, a coalition of supporters for the Act — including Catholics for Choice, the ACLU, and a number of Jewish and Protestant organizations — failed to mention abortifacients and potential abortifacients in their support. Contrary to this portrayal of abortifacients as contraceptives, Just Facts President James Agresti recently pointed to both scientific and government sources that show intrauterine devices end the life of an unborn child, and morning-after pills “may block implantation.”
Agresti noted that implantation takes place more than a week after fertilization, and thus anything that blocks implantation is destroying an unborn child.
Shaheen's office did not respond to LifeSiteNews' request for clarification as to whether the senator finds this concerning.
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LifeSiteNews also asked Shaheen, who has been an outspoken proponent of changing how the military handles sexual assault, if she had concerns about the potential for rapists to cover up their crimes with abortifacients. Pro-life groups such as Life Dynamics, Inc. and Students for Life of America have shown such cover-ups occur with underage girls who are raped by adult men.
The bill had more than 15 Democratic co-sponsors as of publication time. The Democratic-controlled Senate may be able to get the bill past a Republican filibuster, but the GOP-controlled House is considered more pro-life than the Senate. However, some are concerned in light of the fact that in 2013 the House approved the defense authorization bill that included Shaheen's abortion amendment.
Congress goes on recess at the end of this week until September, which means the bill would only have a few weeks to pass before elections in November, and a few weeks after the elections in a lame-duck session.