Advocates for women in the military applauded a small step for female service members, but noted that significant questions and concerns about the new policy and its implementation remain. Allison Yarrow reports.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which the president signed into law late Wednesday night, has been assailed by liberals and libertarians for authorizing the indefinite detention of American citizens. But the annual spending bill this year made a different sort of history as well by repealing the generation-long ban on insurance coverage for abortions for members of the armed services who are victims of rape and incest—finally giving those women the guaranteed affordable coverage in those circumstances that federal prisoners, civilian employees, and Medicaid recipients have long received.
New Hampshire’s senior senator Jeanne Shaheen, who introduced the amendment repealing the ban that had been in effect since 1981 (PDF), called the bill's passage an “important step” toward ending a policy that was “blatantly unfair to women putting their lives on the line.” Currently, military insurance only covers abortions performed to save the life of the mother, and military health-care facilities will only perform them to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape and incest. Shaheen’s amendment will let insurance pick up the cost of the procedure in such cases, rather than forcing the woman to pay out of pocket.