Al Franken on Abortion
DFL Jr Senator (MN)
Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act or the MARCH for Military Women Act - Amends the prohibition on using funds available to the Department of Defense (DOD) to perform abortions by adding an exception for cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. (Current law provides an exception only where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.) Repeals a statutory restriction on using a medical treatment facility or other facility of the DOD to perform an abortion.
[Explanatory note from campusprogress.org "Military Reproductive Rights Bill", 7/5/11]:
Currently, the health coverage U.S. servicewomen have doesn't cover abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. U.S. servicewomen are also not permitted to use their own money to pay for an abortion at a military hospital. Military women stationed abroad are most affected by this regulation, as they would be forced to seek abortion services at foreign hospitals, which may be unsafe, or request permission from a supervisor to leave the country, which forces them to divulge that they are seeking an abortion. Most other American women who receive health care from the government but are not in the service can receive abortions in the case of rape, incest, or to the save the life of the mother. The MARCH for Military Women Act would give servicewomen coverage for abortion in the case of rape or incest and allow them to use their own funds for abortion at a U.S. military facility. NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood are among many organizations that support this legislation.
Congressional summary:: Women's Health Protection Act: makes the following limitations concerning abortion services unlawful and prohibits their imposition or application by any government:
Opponent's argument against (Live Action News): This is Roe v. Wade on steroids. The bill is problematic from the very beginning. Its first finding addresses "women's ability to participate equally"; many have rejected this claim that women need abortion in order to be equal to men, or that they need to be like men at all. The sponsors of this pro-abortion bill also seem to feel that pro-life bills have had their time in this country, and that we must now turn back to abortion. The bill also demonstrates that its proponents have likely not even bothered attempting to understand the laws they are seeking to undo, considering that such laws are in place to regulate abortion in order to make it safer. Those who feel that abortion is best left up for the states to decide will also find this bill problematic with its overreach. Sadly, the bill also uses the Fourteenth Amendment to justify abortion, as the Supreme Court did, even though in actuality it would make much more sense to protect the lives of unborn Americans.
Congressional Summary: Congress finds the following:
Opponents reasons for voting NAY:(National Review, July 17, 2014): During hearings on S. 1696, Senators heard many myths from abortion proponents about the "need" for the bill's evisceration of all life-affirming legislation.
Excerpts from Letter to the Senate Majority Leader from 46 Senators: The recent vote in the House to overturn rules protecting Title X health centers would deny women access to care. In 2015, Title X provided basic primary and preventive health care services such as pap tests, breast exams, and HIV testing to more than four million low-income women and men at over 4,000 health centers. In large part due to this work, the US unintended pregnancy rate is at a 30-year low, and rates of teenage pregnancy are the lowest in our nation's history. The success of the program is dependent on funding. Family planning services, like those provided at Planned Parenthood and other family planning centers, should be available to all women, no matter where they live or how much money they make.
Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Disentangling the Data"): Planned Parenthood received approximately $60 million of taxpayer money under Title X, and $390 million through Medicaid. To ensure that taxpayers are not forced to subsidize America's number one abortion provider, Congress should make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible to receive either Medicaid reimbursements or Title X grants if they continue to perform abortions. Taxpayer money from these programs should instead be redirected to the more than 9,000 federally qualified health center sites that provide comprehensive primary health care for those in need without entanglement in abortion.
Supporting argument: (ACLU, "Urging Title X"): Title X services help women & men to plan the number and timing of their pregnancies, thereby helping to prevent approximately one million unintended pregnancies, nearly half of which would end in abortion. However, current funding is inadequate. Had Title X funding kept up with inflation it would now be funded at nearly $700 million. We ask that Title X be funded at $375 million, which is $92 million above its current funding level.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS:
Sen. FRANKEN: The Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act is a straightforward but vital piece of legislation. It would ensure that servicewomen in our military have reliable and timely access to emergency contraception when they need it.
Emergency contraception, or Plan B as it is more commonly known under its brand name, is Food and Drug Administration-approved medication that prevents pregnancy. It is safe and, if taken shortly after pregnancy, highly effective. Since 2006, the FDA has approved it for over-the-counter sale. Currently, women 17 years old and older may purchase emergency contraception over the counter, while those younger require a prescription. Emergency contraception is widely available at pharmacies throughout the U.S. The problem this legislation is meant to address is that there's no guarantee that emergency contraception be available to our servicewomen in the military. Immediate accessibility is especially important in the case of emergency contraception because it is only effective if taken within a short window of time. Once a pregnancy is established, it doesn't work. The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available.
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