Sponsor Amendment to Defense Authorization to Provide Military Women Abortion Access

Washington, DC – Planned Parenthood today applauded the efforts of Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Marc Veasey (D-TX) to end a provision known as the “facilities ban,” a 1996 law barring military treatment facilities (MTFs) from providing abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment — even with a patient's own money. 

There are over 200,000 active duty service women in the U.S. military across all branches. With over 160,000 enlisted women and nearly 40,000 officers, women make up 15% of all Department of Defense active duty personnel, and all military positions are now open to women.

Ninety seven percent of active duty women are of reproductive age, and roughly 20,000 of these women will face an unintended pregnancy. Like three out of ten U.S. women, some of these servicewomen, as well as female military dependents (like spouses), will decide to have an abortion. However, outside of cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, servicewomen do not have access to abortion in their MTFs.

Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“The members of our Armed Forces and their families sacrifice for our country everyday. They deserve the best medical care that our country can provide and should have access to abortion at military treatment facilities, especially when using their own funds. Military women already face additional barriers to care that other women do not due to unjust restrictions that stem from the Hyde amendment and interfere with women’s access to abortion.  These existing obstacles can complicate access to care, especially when deployed overseas or if based in parts of the U.S. where abortion access is severely limited. Planned Parenthood thanks Rep. Speier and Rep. Veasey for their tireless efforts to make sure that the brave servicewomen in our military and military spouses are not denied the full range of reproductive health care while serving our nation. We thank them for their efforts to make sure service members are not punished and treated differently based on needed health care.”

Women across the country are being punished as state laws around abortion become more restrictive and harmful to women’s health, but servicewomen and military families face unique and increased harms.  For example, prohibitions that restrict or ban travel off base and a federal law that prohibits TRICARE from comprehensively covering the full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion, penalize our military women. Until the coverage restriction is eliminated, Congress should—at the very least—lift the facilities ban and allow servicewomen and military family members to access and pay for abortions at MTFs. Servicewomen and military families must be able to depend on their MTFs for medical care, including when stationed overseas or living in areas where local access is inadequate.