The U.S. Senate on Tuesday failed to force abortions to be done at U.S military hospitals abroad and domestically. Kansas is home to military hospitals at Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base and Fort Leavenworth as well as 3 VA facilities in Topeka, Wichita and Leavenworth.
By successfully defeating opposition to a filibuster, conservatives delayed consideration –until after the election –of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the Burris Amendment permitting elective abortions at military base hospitals. You can thank our U.S. senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts, for voting pro-life on this issue.
Current law in effect since 1996 prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense medical personnel or at DOD medical facilities. A separate provision prohibits the use of DOD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.
An amendment similar to the Burris amendment, but not applying to state DOD facilities, was rejected by the House in 2006.
In a recent column and follow-up, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Denise Burke, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. military and attorney for Americans United for Life, explains the two-point strategy of abortion advocates pushing this issue:
- to force tax-funded abortions on civilians, as an “equity issue” to the military, and then
- when the physicians rebel (as they already have done) to push to remove “rights of conscience” from physicians.
The Roe v. Wade ruling, while it stops federal and state governments from prohibiting abortion, does not give American women — whether in the military or not — the right to have the federal government pay for, provide the facilities for, or otherwise facilitate the provision of abortions.
Medical equipment and operating suites used in military medical facilities are paid for by American taxpayers, as are the salaries of the military and civilian providers who staff these facilities. The proposed payment of “personal funds” or an “administrative fee” by an individual servicewoman seeking an abortion at a military facility cannot alter this stubborn reality, though we don’t yet know what the fee will be.
In 1993, then-President Clinton issued an executive order lifting the long-standing ban on elective abortions in military medical facilities overseas. This four-year “experiment” proved to be an abject failure. Military physicians and other uniformed medical personnel refused to participate in abortions, and military officials were forced to waste precious resources in an effort to locate civilian providers willing to perform abortions at military installations.
More than 200 military physicians already have signed a letter urging Congress to resist abortion advocates’ fevered efforts to introduce elective abortion into military medicine.
Burke points out that Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union oppose the right of health care providers to follow their consciences and decline to participate in abortions. Accordingly, they have made the repeal of laws protecting conscience one of their top policy priorities.
If abortion advocates can succeed in crushing the freedom of conscience of military health care providers or in forcing the military’s insurance provider to cover elective abortions, they certainly will use the resulting precedent to coerce the entire federal government and the 50 states to do the same.