Members of Military Support Equal Rights for Servicewomen
As we were enjoying the long weekend at barbeques or on the beach, I’m sure that many of us also stopped to consider the sacrifices of our troops – both those who currently protect us across the world and those who have served in the armed forces throughout their lifetimes. There are many ways in which U.S. servicemen and women sacrifice, but most Americans are unaware that, beyond sacrificing their lives in the line of duty, servicewomen also sacrifice their own reproductive health in order to serve.
The health insurance available to servicewomen differs significantly from every other health insurance plan provided by the federal government in that it does NOT cover abortion services in the cases of rape or incest. Rather, servicewomen can only receive insurance coverage for abortion services if their lives are in danger.
The current policy is particularly unjust and unfair in light of the alarmingly high rates of sexual assault in the military. According to the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2010 numbers, 3,158 military sexual assaults were reported. That number alone is shocking, but it is even more disturbing in light of the knowledge that many women who have experienced sexual violence do not report the incident. Researchers estimate that over time, taking into account the percentage of military sexual assaults that go unreported, up to one-third of women experience an attempted or completed rape during their military service.
The Shaheen Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) would fix this egregious loophole by ending the ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for military women and dependents in cases of rape and incest.
Many retired members of the military have been inspired by their experiences to come out in support of the Shaheen Amendment. Gale Pollock, Major General, US Army (Ret.), stated:
"Women who put their lives on the line fighting for our freedom shouldn't be denied reproductive health care services…The Shaheen Amendment restores fairness to discriminatory legislation that denies servicewomen access to the healthcare they need. At the very least, our servicewomen deserve the same level of coverage as other women who rely on the government for their health care.”
Hear directly from retired servicemen and women in the video below, and stand with the 400,000 servicewomen by signing this pledge today.