What is the Current Law?
More than 400,000 women serve in the armed forces and put their safety and lives at risk to preserve and protect our freedom. Yet these women are denied access to the same health care available to the civilians they protect.
Today, federal insurance coverage is only available for abortion care for servicewomen and their families when a woman’s life is in danger. Servicewomen and members of military families seeking abortion care after rape or incest must pay out-of-pocket for such care at a military facility. This is contrary to other federal health insurance programs which are prohibited from providing funding for abortion care, but unlike the military, most contain an exception for pregnancy resulting from rape and incest. The Shaheen Amendment would address this inequity.
Current law forbids military hospitals from providing abortion care except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment — even if the woman pays with her own funds. Because physicians on military bases are prohibited from providing abortion care, servicewomen are often forced to choose between taking leave and traveling far distances to an American provider, seeking services from a local, unfamiliar health care facility (if abortion is legal and they are not in a combat zone), having an unsafe procedure, or attempting to self-induce an abortion.