Bill would lift military abortion ban

By Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times

Senate Democrats are angling to end the military’s decades-old ban on allowing abortions in overseas military hospitals, thus thrusting the culture wars back onto the front burner after months of being drowned out by the nation’s economic woes.

Sen. Roland W. Burris ushered the proposal through the Senate Armed Services Committee in May, tacking it onto the Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate is slated to consider Tuesday.

The Illinois Democrat’s plan would require women to pay for abortions upfront and without government funds, but would allow doctors at military hospitals to perform the procedures if those conditions are met. It would overturn a policy established by congressional Republicans in the mid-1990s that restricted abortions at military hospitals only to cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.

“I feel it is critical that we ensure our men and women in uniform have access to the highest quality of health care while they are serving overseas,” Mr. Burris said. “This legislation simply removes a decades-old ban, allowing doctors to offer services and freeing American servicewomen to receive the medical attention they require, all without spending a single federal dollar.”

The proposal angered social and religious conservatives, including many of the 2,000 or so who converged on Washington this weekend for the Values Voter Summit. Speaking at the event, Sen. James M. Inhofe said the plan would still go to fund doctors and surgical equipment used for abortions in military hospitals, and that it should not be slipped into the defense authorization bill.

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