Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Co-Chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, introduced the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act, which would give military women the same access to reproductive healthcare as civilian American women. The MARCH for Military Women Act would lift the statutory ban that prevents women in the military from using their own private funds to access abortion services at U.S. military facilities.
"It's unconscionable that American women who swore an oath to defend the Constitution are being denied their Constitutional rights," said Slaughter. "This legislation will ensure that the brave women of our military are entitled to the same rights and protections as civilian women when it comes to reproductive health."
More than 200,000 women -- including active service members, spouses, and dependents of military personnel -- live on military bases and rely on military hospitals for their health care. Current policy is discriminatory -- women serving our country do not have the same rights to reproductive health care as the women they are fighting to protect -- and endangers the health of our servicewomen who depend on their base hospitals for medical care, especially in countries where local facilities are inadequate or unavailable.
If this bill became law, no taxpayer dollars would be spent for abortion care at overseas military facilities, and the military's current "conscience clauses" would remain intact so that no doctor would be forced to provide abortion care against their will.
Congresswoman Slaughter has been a champion for choice and military women for her entire career. The bill introduced today is similar to one she introduced last term that also included a provision to allow military women who become pregnant as the result of a rape or incest to receive insurance coverage for an abortion. That provision, known as the "Shaheen Amendment," became law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 13 with the strong support of Congresswoman Slaughter and the Pro-Choice Caucus.
"Providing our servicewoman equal access to health care is a commonsense policy we should all get behind," said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "I applaud Rep. Slaughter for her continued efforts to protect the rights of these heroes who fight for us day in and day out."