Servicewomen Deserve More

September 27, 2012Katharine Nasielski
More than 400,000 women serve in the Armed Forces, and receive their health insurance from the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. But 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. We've spoken about this harsh injustice before, and many of you have contacted your Members of Congress urging them to support the MARCH Act and the Shaheen Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Today, I want to direct your attention to a recent op-ed in Politico, co-written by Lawrence Korb and Jessica Arons of Center for American Progress, which succinctly and powerfully lays out the inequalities that servicewomen and their dependents face in their health care options in contrast with other federal employees. Arons and Korb write, "Abortion coverage following rape or incest is the least that our military women deserve. It is shameful and disheartening that even this basic coverage is so difficult to obtain, for it is woefully insufficient. Congress and the administration should pass the Shaheen Amendment as a first step in working to meet all of the reproductive and sexual health needs of our servicewomen."
We at the RAC couldn't agree more. While we believe that servicewomen should be permitted to use their own money for abortion services in any case, if they so choose, this conversation is not about politics or ideological debates. This is about fairness, equal treatment and compassion. It is about providing the women who risk their lives and make sacrifices on behalf of our country with the same access to care that we provide civilian women who also rely on the federal government for their health care. Moreover, our Jewish values affirm the rights of women to be moral decision makers, capable of making responsible choices about their reproductive health.
Make your voice heard: Contact your Members of Congress and urge them to support military access to reproductive care!
Photo courtesy of AP.

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