NYCLU Applauds Abortion Coverage for Servicewomen in Cases of Rape

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December 21, 2012 —  Today congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal a ban on insurance coverage for abortion for servicewomen and military dependents who are survivors of rape or incest.

Sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and co-authored by New York’s own Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the amendment brings military insurance coverage in line with that provided to other women who receive their health insurance through the federal government. Without the bill, a U.S. servicewoman who survives a rape would receive no coverage for abortion care unless her life was in danger.

"Women in our military should never have to face sexual violence, but when sexual violence occurs we need to support them with the timely care they need," said Katharine Bodde, NYCLU Policy Counsel. "This amendment is a small but important step to ensuring that women in the military are treated with fairness, dignity and respect."

The Senate Armed Services Committee passed the amendment by a bipartisan vote in May, but the House version of the defense bill did not include a similar amendment. A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee agreed on Tuesday to include the amendment in the final version of the bill approved by both chambers.

"Everyday U.S servicewomen risk their lives for our country, they shouldn't be discriminated against," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "We applaud Senator Gillibrand for her leadership in this effort to end this injustice."