Crossposted from Attackerman.
Monica notes that an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, introduced by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) will repeal a ban on abortions for servicewomen.
The ban, re-instituted by Congress in 1995 (after Clinton rolled it back in 1993), prevents a servicewoman from obtaining an abortion on base, even if she uses her own money. (Let it be stated definitively here that federal money has never and likely will never cover abortion — despite the handwringing from conservatives. In fact, during the House debate of the health care bill, I found myself yelling at Rep. John Boehner on the teevee: “I wish you were right! I wish health care reform WOULD lead to federal funding for abortion!!” But I digress.)
As Megan Carpentier writes, right now, we’re actually failing the women who presumably want to have children:
Women in the United States face higher infant mortality rates than women from countries with similar levels of wealth, and the rate remains stubbornly resistant to what little efforts are made to combat it.
And by restricting access to abortion, the government is essentially forcing motherhood upon servicewomen who may not want to have children (and is also making it more likely that they’ll have unsafe abortions, off base, in countries where abortion is illegal). Combine forced motherhood with the negative outcomes for mothers and infants and it’s doubly frustrating. And remember, 36 percent of women in the military are black. That’s three times the percentage of black women in America. Since there is an increased occurrence of negative outcomes for pregnant black women in the U.S., and a high proportion of women in the military are black, then these are the women who would benefit heavily from increased access to safe abortion. Giving them the opportunity to exercise that choice would be beneficial for all.
Update: I forgot to add — while the statistics on abortion in the military are really limited — it should be noted that black women (and poor women) are more likely to seek abortions than most other groups of women. I don’t see any reason why this would be vastly different in the military.