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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 27 , 2010

CONTACT:

NAF Communications Department
202-667-5881
press@prochoice.org

Senate Armed Services Committee Votes to Repeal Ban on Abortions at Military Hospitals

Saporta: Women in the military put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve the same access to safe, legal abortion care as their civilian counterparts.

Today, Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), commended the Senate Armed Services Committee for voting to repeal a law banning military hospitals from providing abortion care.

“The current ban jeopardizes the lives and health of servicewomen and their dependents around the world who must rely on military hospitals for their health care,” said Saporta. “We applaud the Senate Armed Services Committee for taking this important first step in removing this discriminatory and harmful policy.”  

Current law forbids military hospitals from providing abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman. There are currently hundreds of thousands of American women living on military bases overseas. Because physicians on military bases are prohibited from providing abortion care—even if the woman pays with her own funds—servicewomen are forced to choose between traveling far distances to an American provider, seeking services from a local, unfamiliar health care facility, self-inducing an abortion, or having an unsafe, potentially illegal, abortion locally. In addition, servicewomen may be forced to disclose private medical information to their commanding officers in order to obtain a leave to seek abortion care.

For one woman who contacted us, discovering she was pregnant while serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq, put her in a career-ending situation:

“I have long been aware of the stigma surrounding this circumstance and knew my career would likely be over, though I have received exceptional performance reviews in the past. I knew I would have no medical privacy, and my record would be disclosed to my supervisors and coworkers. So I obtained information on the Internet about how to cause a miscarriage by taking high doses of over-the-counter herbs and supplements. After weeks with no success, I resorted to attempting to manually dislodge the fetus by inserting objects into my cervix. There were no coat hangers to be found in Iraq, but the idea was the same.”

Repealing this ban would permit American servicewomen, military wives, and their daughters to use their own funds to obtain safe abortion care at military hospitals and bases around the world. We urge the full Senate to repeal the law banning military hospitals from providing abortion care.

“Women in the military put their lives on the line for our country and they deserve the same access to safe, legal abortion care as their civilian counterparts,” said Saporta.

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The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women in North America who choose abortion each year. For more information, visit our website at www.prochoice.org.

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