House Arms Committee votes to continue restricting access to health care for service women and their families

Statement by Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), on the failure of the House Armed Services Committee to pass the Speier-Veasey Amendment to the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act:

Women who serve our country and their family members should not be denied access to abortion care in military treatment facilities (MTFs). The facilities ban, which the House Armed Services Committee voted to uphold today, limits the care military health care professionals can provide to their patients at MTFs and threatens the health of military women and their dependents.

On our toll-free hotline, we hear from service women and their families who are unable to access abortion care at their MTF. With anti-abortion politicians closing safe abortion clinics, fewer and fewer military bases in the United States are located near an abortion provider. Many service women have difficulty gaining permission to leave the base to obtain care and many do not have access to the transportation needed to travel farther and farther distances.

Accessing abortion care off-base while stationed overseas is often not possible, forcing service women to travel back to the U.S. to obtain care or resort to other options. This unnecessary absence and travel impacts the readiness of units. Without a facilities ban, service women would be able to obtain care at their MTF and almost immediately return to their duties. They would also not need to resort to unsafe options or jeopardize their military careers.

The military facilities ban hurts women like the one who wrote to us saying:

I am a member of the armed forces currently serving in Afghanistan. I am here with my husband and unaware that the pills I take to prevent malaria can counteract my birth control pills. My husband is as shocked as I am. We do not want a child now; we have a job to do here. Due to the military’s no-abortion policy, I am pretty desperate. It isn’t like you can even go off base here, and you can’t just say you need medical leave without saying why.

This ban on abortion care in MTFs will continue to harm service women and their families until anti-abortion lawmakers allow a women and her doctor, not politicians and JAG Officers, to decide when and where she will be able to obtain the medical care she needs. The House Armed Services Committee should be working to expand access to health care for our service women and their families, not continuing to restrict it.

The National Abortion Federation would like to thank Representatives Speier and Veasey for offering such a crucial amendment, as well as all of the Representatives who voted for its passage.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Alissa Manzoeillo, National Abortion Federation
202.667.5881, ext 219; 202.595.4395 (after hours/cell)

See the provider letter and coalition letter NAF sent to members of the House Arms Committee in support of lifting the ban on abortion care in MTFs.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia.

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