More than 80 Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill on Friday that would allow military medical facilities to perform and pay for abortions for service members and dependents, even if Roe v. Wade is canceled.
The Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health Act, or MARCH, for military service members, would ensure abortion remains available to women serving in the more than two dozen states supposed to ban the procedure if the Supreme Court strikes down the right of Americans.
“The fallout for our service members and their families will be catastrophic, as will the threat to our military readiness, morale and unit cohesion,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, chair of the military personnel subcommittee. House Armed Services. “Abortion care is not a privilege, it is standard health care essential to everyone’s ability to determine their own destiny…Our brave soldiers deserve the same access to basic health care as people who ‘they fight to protect.’
Last month, Politico reported that the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade in a draft decision. Even though the final ruling could change, advocates immediately called on Congress to protect the reproductive rights of service members, who have little control over their position in a state that will ban the procedure.
Bill has only a narrow path to success. While Democrats have a 12-seat advantage in the House, the Senate is evenly split with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents caucusing with Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris could cast the deciding vote, giving Democrats the edge if a vote fails along party lines, but Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.V., has already broken with his party on the issue, voting against an effort in May. to protect abortion rights in federal law.
The bill is led by Democratic Women’s Caucus and Pro-Choice Caucus leaders, including Speier; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla.; Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich.; Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California. Democratic Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, NY; Jeanne Shaheen, NH, and Richard Blumental, Connecticut, will introduce a companion bill in the Senate, according to a news release.
Military women already face more restrictions on access to abortion than their civilian counterparts. Under the Hyde Amendment of 1976, military medical facilities cannot perform most abortions, nor can Tricare cover the cost of the procedure at private facilities, except in cases of rape, incest and high risk to the woman’s life.
The bill introduced on Friday would repeal the amendment, specifically section 1093 of the United States Code 10.
“Reproductive rights cannot and should not end when you put on our nation’s uniform,” Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-California, said in a statement.
Many states on the verge of banning abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade have large military bases, including in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Ohio. While abortion laws may vary from state to state, the reproductive rights of female troops would depend on where they are stationed, something the military has little say over. If a woman from New York, where abortion should remain legal, joins the military and is stationed in Florida, her access to health care will be limited by her decision to join the military.
“They didn’t choose to live in this state. They chose to volunteer to sacrifice for their country, but they did not volunteer to sacrifice their reproductive rights,” said Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force judge advocate who is now a professor at the Southwestern Law School. defense one. “It’s something men in the military don’t have to sacrifice. Why should women? »
Women who are stationed in states where abortion is banned would have to overcome hurdles to access the procedure in a state where it is legal, including getting approved leave, traveling to another state, paying for the abortion from their pocket and possibly having to pay for other costs such as a hotel stay.
It is also unclear whether military personnel could be punished for helping another military member have an abortion. In Missouri, for example, a state legislator has introduced a bill that would allow anyone to sue someone who helps a woman cross state lines to access the process. If a commanding officer granted furlough or someone helped a serviceman pay to travel to a state where abortions are legal, they may be punished under local law, VanLandingham said.