Defense Bill Moves Forward With Shaheen Amendment Providing Equal Health Care Coverage for Servicewomen

December 18, 2012 6:13 pm

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

Amendment Provides Insurance Coverage for Abortion in Cases of Rape or Incest

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666;

WASHINGTON – Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees filed the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act conference report today, which includes a provision to repeal a ban on insurance coverage for abortion for servicewomen and dependents who are survivors of rape or incest.

The change brings military insurance coverage in line with that provided to other women who receive their health insurance through the federal government. This is the first time the annual defense authorization bill has passed out of conference with such a provision before being put to a final vote by Congress.

“Servicewomen and military family members, who each serve and sacrifice for our country, shouldn’t be discriminated against and Congress did the right thing by extending to them the same abortion coverage provided to all other women enrolled in federal health insurance,” said Major General Gale Pollock, USA (Ret.). “They deserve more than second-class healthcare.”

The amendment was offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and adopted in a bipartisan vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee in May. Most recently, Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, joined dozens of military leaders in signing a letter urging congressional support for the amendment.

“With the inclusion of my amendment in the final defense bill, we’ve made an important step to restoring equity to military service women,” said Shaheen. “After three decades of a policy that discriminated against women who put their lives on the line for us, I’m proud of my colleagues in both Houses of Congress and of both parties who are going to allow us to right this wrong. Also, I am grateful for the coalition of organizations that helped make this day happen, from retired military officers to women’s health advocates, that never stopped fighting for our military service women.”

“We are grateful that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle came together to do the right thing for those who do so much for us,” said Major Gen. Dennis Laich, USAR (Ret.). “This was always an issue of fairness and military readiness, and we’re pleased that our elected officials chose to stand up for servicewomen by including the amendment in the NDAA conference report.”

For more information, please visit

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The latest in Reproductive Freedom

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Reproductive Freedom

Reproductive Freedom issue image

The ACLU works to ensure that every person can make the best decision for themselves and their family about whether and when to have a child without undue political interference.