This year, as the Senate Armed Services Committee prepared its yearly assault on civil rights aka the National Defense Authorization Act (aka; NDAA; aka “it’s Obama’s fault”), but this year in addition to the usual goodies about refusing to fund the transfer of prisoners from Gitmo, they’ve also included funding for abortions in the case of rape or incest for women who are serving in the military.
We can haz freedom?
Cue the House Republicans poutrage.
The amendment was proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D, N.H), hence it’s informally known as “the Shaheen amendment”. Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash), ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, supports the amendment, but the House Republicans are notorious for their legislative activism. Sure, the NDAA has passed for fifty years, but this is the House that refused to raise the debt ceiling.
You think they won’t let the military go unfunded just to ensure that no female solider has access to an abortion after she’s raped? Try them.
The Military Times reported:
The House Republicans say they can’t be sure they will pass the NDAA with the abortion amendment, because, “a Republican staffer familiar with defense issues said the Shaheen amendment stands little chance of surviving in the final compromise defense authorization bill.
“Historically, social provisions that are not reflected in both bills heading into conference don’t survive,” he said. “Amendments like this have come up several times.”
Oh, right. We can’t insert social issues into the NDAA, but it can be used to get around the President’s Executive Order to close Gitmo. Yes, this happened in spite of what some of your angry friends write on your Facebook Page. However, our government works such that only Congress can fund such orders and they don’t see fit to do so because they are very busy chasing down gays and women.
The NDAA can also be used to get around the President’s order to move military trials to civilian trials. Last year, Obama wrote:
In this bill, the Congress has once again included provisions that would bar the use of appropriated funds for transfers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States, as well as transfers to the custody or effective control of foreign countries unless specified conditions are met.
So, see, the NDAA can be used for causes, if those causes are hawkish and serve the military industrial complex, and if enough members of both chambers support them. I guess what the House Republicans are saying is that the NDAA can’t be used to expand medical freedom for women.
Even the Military Times buys the framing that abortion in the case of rape or incest is something “advocates” are pushing for. Advocates? This sounds like “pro-abortionists.”
Advocates are launching a full-court press in favor of allowing the military to fund abortions in cases of rape or incest, but some Capitol Hill insiders say past failures bode ill for the measure’s survival.
In reality, some sane human beings are attempting to recognize the medical needs of our female heroes. This is often confused with “advocating” for abortion. It is actually advocating for the same rights these women would have here in the United States, you know, if they weren’t busy “defending our freedom” overseas. Federal employees have the “right” to get an abortion in the case of rape or incest, why not soldiers?
Mother Jones explains:
Unlike the rest of the federal government, the Department of Defense currently only provides abortion coverage if the life of the mother is at stake. Under current law, if a State Department employee is raped, her government health insurance plan will pay for an abortion if she wants one.
Of course, she’s going to have to prove she was raped first.
Proving rape in the military is sort of like asking to be fired. Even reporting it is bad news. Report rape and you might end up dishonorably discharged and then literally charged for your enlistment bonus that you received seventeen years prior to having the bad sense to be raped.
CNN had a story recently about five women who were discharged from the military after reporting being raped. They were labeled as suffering from a personality disorder (as in, “this one talks disorder”?).
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, says the military has used personality and other psychiatric diagnoses “almost robotically” to force women who report sexual assaults out of the service.
“It’s the default position the military uses,” says Speier, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The problem we have in the military is the unit commander is in charge of the entire process.”
A personality disorder is seen as a pre-existing condition, so these women lost their benefits, including medical and educational. One of them with 17 years of service was charged with repaying her enlistment bonus, because you know, her pre-existing personality disorder hid for 17 years until she was raped so she was never fit to serve. So say the men in charge.
We call this secondary injury.
Of course, personality disorders are not the same thing as a short-term reaction to trauma. A personality disorder cannot be caused by another condition, such as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorder. A personality disorder is something that exists on its own, unrelated to external events and traumas.
Insert applause here for the success of the anti-woman movement, which has managed to reframe this debate until women are now fighting for the “right” to an abortion after being raped, if they can prove it and are not fired for speaking of it, while Republicans claim there is no war on women.
Would House Republicans really leave the troops unfunded while still fighting for our country? They drove the country’s credit rating over a cliff over the debt ceiling and then were unwilling to make any cuts on their end in order to actually deal with the deficit. So, it’s quite possible that House Republicans are indeed so steeped in the tea that they will actually consider this fight.
Wave that flag, for the liberty.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.