By Ramsey Cox
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) vowed Friday to fight for abortion rights and healthcare coverage for military service women if the Senate defense bill reaches a conference committee with the House.
Shaheen said the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 3254, includes language allowing reproductive healthcare for female service members.
Under the bill, the military healthcare service would now cover reproductive healthcare, such as abortions in cases of rape of incest, for military service women.
"This NDAA bill before us will finally bring the military healthcare in line with the rest of the federal government," Shaheen said on the floor Friday. "I will work to make sure it's included in the conference with the House."
The Senate is working on passing the defense bill this week, which funds the U.S. military and its operations. If passed, it will likely go to a conference committee with the House passed defense bill.
Shaheen said the inclusion of reproductive healthcare for female service members was an "issue of basic equality" and is something covered by other healthcare plans for most women.
"Access to care should no longer be one of the sacrifices women in the military are forced to make," Shaheen said.
Some Democrats are concerned that Republican House members on the conference committee might not allow the language to remain in the bill because they believe abortion, even in the case of rape or incest, should be banned.