January 4, 2013 — President Obama on Wednesday signed a $633 billion Department of Defense authorization bill (HR 4310) that includes a provision allowing the military's health plan to cover abortion in cases of rape or incest, the AP/Huffington Post reports (Daly, AP/Huffington Post, 1/3).
The military currently only covers abortions needed to save a woman's life.
The provision was sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and brings the military's coverage of abortion in line with insurance programs offered to federal employees and other women who get their health insurance through the federal government. Shaheen said the bill is an "important step" but the government still has "a long way to go to ensuring policies are carried out across the military."
There were about 19,000 sexual assaults in the military in 2010, of which an estimated fewer than 15% were reported, according to estimates from the Service Women's Action Network.
Jessica Kenyon, an advocate for sexual assault survivors, said that under the new bill, abortions still could be delayed by flawed sexual assault reporting and investigations protocol. She suggested that impartial commanders or a civilian social work authority be assigned to such cases (Yarrow, Daily Beast, 1/3).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership