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New Bill Would Authorize Federally Funded Abortions for Servicewomen

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New proposed legislation would allow servicewomen receiving care through the Indian Health Services (IHS), Medicare recipients and federal employees not in the military to use federal funds to pay for abortions, if they were the victims of rapes or incest or if their lives would be endangered by childbirth, reported FOX News.

Rep. Louise Slaughter and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, both New York democratic lawmakers, introduced the proposed legislation June 2 and announced it June 6, reported The Washington Independent. MARCH for Military Women Act (Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health), House Resolution 2085, would make abortions legal for servicewomen when they face rape, incest or life risk. The bill would also allow servicewomen to use their own funds for abortion services at U.S. military facilities.

"As our servicewomen risk their lives defending our country, it is deeply unfair that they are denied the rights of the Constitution that they defend,” said Congresswoman Slaughter in a statement. “Imagine being a victim of rape on a United States military base overseas being denied the abortion coverage, and then having to turn to a potentially unsafe local facility. It’s preposterous and incredibly unjust to the women who serve our country so proudly each day.”

"It is an outrage that the women in our military do not have the same basic protections for reproductive health care as women across the U.S.," said Senator Gillibrand in a press release. "We must put an end to this egregious injustice and allow our women in uniform to exercise their right to reproductive health care."

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Servicewomen were afforded the right to abortion until 1988, when the Department of Defense rescinded it. The policy especially threatens women serving overseas, who may be forced to rely on unsafe local facilities. Currently, a servicewoman must request permission from her supervisor to leave her combat mission and return to the United States or another country where abortion care is available, stated Congresswoman Slaughter's press release.

The bill currently claims 39 cosponsors and awaits action in the House Committee on Armed Services, reported The WashingtonIndependent.