ACLU Letter to the House Armed Services Committee Strongly Supporting the Davis Amendment to the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (5/2/2006)
Support the Davis Amendment to the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly urges you to support an important women’s health amendment that will be offered by Representative Susan Davis during the House Armed Services Committee’s consideration of the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act.
The Davis amendment would ensure that all U.S. servicewomen and military dependents, regardless of where they are stationed, have equal access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Current law prohibits women from obtaining abortion services at U.S. military hospitals, even if they pay for these services with their own private funds. The Davis amendment does not require the Department of Defense to pay for abortion services. Rather, it would simply repeal the current dangerous ban on privately funded abortion care and allow U.S servicewomen to use their own private funds to obtain abortion services at U.S. military hospitals.
For military women and dependents stationed overseas, the current restriction poses grave health risks. Local facilities are often inadequate or entirely unavailable, and traveling to a safe facility can result in delays that may substantially increase the risks of an abortion procedure. Moreover, it can be it extremely difficult for military women to access abortion services off base. Retired Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy, the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in the United States Army, has spoken out again this ban, explaining that it is “imperative that our soldiers have access to safe, confidential abortion services at U.S. military hospitals overseas.” General Kennedy noted that a soldier’s situation is “different from that of a civilian woman” because “she is subject to the orders of the officers appointed over her. Every hour of her day belongs to the U.S. Army and she must have her seniorâ€™s permission to leave her place of duty.”
The ban on privately funded abortions also discriminates against women and their families who have volunteered to serve their country and have been assigned to military posts overseas. These women are prohibited from exercising their fundamental constitutional right to choose simply because of their military service and where they have been stationed. In a letter to Congress dated May 7, 1999, the Department of Defense opposed this harmful restriction, emphasizing “it is unfair to female service members, particularly those assigned to overseas locations, to be denied their constitutional right to the full range of reproductive health care.”
For all of these reasons, the ban on privately funded abortions should be repealed. The ACLU urges you to support the Davis Amendment and the health of our military women.
Caroline Fredrickson, Director
Washington Legislative Office
Greg Nojeim, Associate Director
Washington Legislative Office