The Senate decided last week to keep in place a policy that denies abortion coverage for military rape victims who became pregnant as a result of their sexual assault. Female service members who fight and die for their country are not extended the same rights as civilian government employees, who can use their government-funded insurance to pay for abortion if they’re victims of rape or incest, or even rape survivors in prison who receive government-funded abortion coverage.
Rape is rampant in the military, with nearly one in three women sexually assaulted while serving. Yet the Senate declined to vote on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment that would restore abortion coverage and give military rape victims the same options as civilians and prisoners.
Anti-abortion activists are cheering the decision, and the conservative group Concerned Women for America had some particularly infuriating things to say about the Senate’s inaction:
Concerned Women for America (CWA) revealed exactly how little concern they have for actual women, much less for America, this week when they sent out a letter attacking women who defend our country for having the nerve to believe they deserve full medical care after being raped.CWA also described being raped and forced to bear a rapist’s child as merely “difficult circumstances” requiring “compassion and support.”
The mind-bogglingly vicious swipe at female soldiers had a couple of doozies, including the claim that allowing raped service members to access abortion “serves as a political distraction” from national security, as if it’s in the interest of national security to subject raped service members to forced childbirth.
But in a letter dripping with congratulatory faux concern and naked disregard for female service members who have been raped, the most attention-grabbing quote was this: Women deserve better than simply being given abortion as a ‘cure-all.’
The Senate’s cowardice in refusing to even bring the amendment to a vote is also disappointing. Declining to vote on a measure is a sneaky tactic that effectively kills the amendment, but allows senators to avoid going on the record denying rights to service members. Earlier this year a Republican-led House committee also shot down a Democratic measure like Shaheen’s.
According to very conservative Defense Department numbers, fewer than 20 percent of military sexual assaults are reported, and only 8 percent of assailants are prosecuted — in no small part because of the military’s pervasive blame-the-victim culture.