House Democrats introduced a bill last week that would permit military medical facilities to provide abortions to service members. The measure is specifically designed to provide military abortions even if Roe v. Wade is overturned this year by the Supreme Court as expected. The bill also directs that the federal government cover the costs of covered abortions.
Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) led 82 House Democrats in introducing the bill. The three are co-chairs of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
Speier said in a statement announcing the bill that if Roe is reversed, “abortion will quickly become illegal in 26 states.” She also claimed that women service members have a rate of unintended pregnancy “22% greater than civilians.”
She added that many of those women will be stationed in states that will prohibit abortions and “don’t have the luxury of traveling off-base” to go “thousands of miles” for extended periods in order to obtain abortions. Speier said that the “fallout” will be “catastrophic,” and will threaten America’s military readiness and morale.
Her statement included her claim that abortion “isn’t a privilege” but is essential health care needed for a person “to determine their own destiny.”
The Hyde Amendment is legislative language that has been included in federal statutes and regulations since the 1970s that prevents federal funding of abortions or direct provision of abortions by military medical facilities. The new bill will repeal the amendment if enacted.
A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate. At least 48 Republican senators have publicly pledged to block any bill that could impact the application of the Hyde Amendment. That pledge was recently issued through a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) headed up by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus.
The letter pointed out that Joe Biden has recently signed a bill into law that codifies the Hyde Amendment and the provision has long been supported by most Americans and a majority of U.S. senators. According to the letter, the amendment has saved the lives of nearly 2.5 million unborn children.