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Defense Bill To Contain Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 contains language that authorizes the federal government to provide taxpayer funding of abortions.

The Act will allow the Department of Defense to conduct abortions at military hospitals, at taxpayer expense, if the patient is deemed to have been a victim of rape or incest.

This is a departure from the policy of previous years, which prohibited taxpayer funding of abortion with federal dollars. DoD funding of abortions has been prohibited by law since 1996, except where necessary to save the life of the mother.

The Clinton Administration allowed military physicians to perform abortions at taxpayer expense from 1993 to 1996, but military physicians generally refused to perform them. The Clinton Administration attempted to circumvent military doctors by contracting out abortion services. The Republicans took control of Congress in the 1994 mid-term elections, and voted to eliminate the practice. That has been the law ever since.

The provision allowing for the taxpayer funding of abortion was originally introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

Proponents of the measure argue that women in the military are at risk of sexual assault, even from fellow servicemembers. If they are stationed abroad, and wish to have an abortion, they are forced to navigate the health care systems of other countries and pay out of pocket. They also argue that lifting the prohibition on abortion in military hospitals will bring military benefits for women in closer alignment with benefits available to federal civilian employees. Medicaid, Medicare and the Federal Health Benefits System all provide coverage for abortion in cases of rape.

Opponents of taxpayer-funded abortion point to the deep moral and ethical reservations Americans have with abortion, and the objection to being forced to pay taxes into a system that performs them.

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