Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List praised the Wednesday passage of the Defense Authorization bill without the amendment approving abortions on military bases.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser declared the passage of the Department of Defense bill without the pro-abortion Burris Amendment as a victory for pro-lifers adamantly against taxpayer-funded abortions.
“Congress heard the pro-life grassroots activists’ voices and kept abortion out of military medical facilities. It is time for the abortion industry to stop using the military as a place to advance its agenda,” Dannenfelser proclaimed in a statement.
In May, Sen. Roland Burris added an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act in the Senate Armed Services Committee, that would allow elective abortions on domestic and international military bases. According to SBA List, the amendment would have gone further than Clinton’s 1993 executive order which only allowed abortions on international military bases.
Current law prohibits the performance of abortions by Department of Defense medical personnel or in Department of Defense medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when pregnancy results from rape or incest.
SBA List rallied pro-life constituents to send nearly 35,000 e-mails and make over 4,000 calls urging the Senate to oppose any version of the bill containing the pro-abortion Burris Amendment.
On Dec. 9, Republicans blocked Democrats from getting the 60 votes necessary to bring the loaded bill to the Senate floor for discussion and an approval vote.
Last week, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) raised another version of the National Defense Authorization Act which did not contain the Burris Amendment. It also did not include the controversial amendment that would have allowed open homosexuality in military.
A separate amendment repealing the military ban on gays and lesbians serving openly was approved by Congress last weekend and signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America expressed outrage at Skelton’s removal of the Burris amendment.
“It is outrageous that women who are serving honorably in the U.S. military are denied the same access to reproductive health care as women back home,” PPFA President Cecile Richards said in a Dec. 17 statement.
She said supporters of the legislation were establishing a “double standard” for military women.
Despite PPFA’s outrage, Democrats agreed to support the stripped down act. The bill passed the U.S. House and Senate on voice votes. Skelton, also chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, praised the compromise.
“For 48 consecutive years, Congress has carried out its duty to the men and women of the military by passing a defense authorization act,” Skelton told reporters. “I am very proud that Congress continued the tradition by approving this defense authorization bill, which will help protect America and take care of our men and women in uniform and their families.”
The DOD defense authorization bill will authorize $548.2 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget and $158.7 billion for overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2011 fiscal year. It will also give a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops, reauthorize military special pays and bonuses, and a guarantee that children of service members can stay covered under the military's TRICARE health care program until they are 26 years of age.
This is also good news for the Military Chaplains Association which advocated for soldiers’ pay raises and bonuses along with the Military Officers of America Association.
The bill now awaits the president’s signature.