Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Religion Dispatches: Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend, by Kathryn Joyce:
Unable to get an abortion during a tour of duty in Iraq a soldier is left with no option but to do it herself—a humiliating but not uncommon dilemma. Women in the military are forced to obtain a leave to get the care they need; but if they’re honest about why, they put their military career in jeopardy. If they’re not, they put their career in jeopardy.
You hear these legends of coat hanger abortions,” a 26-year-old former Marine sergeant told me recently, “but there are no coat hangers in Iraq. I looked.” Amy (who prefers not to use her real name) was stationed in Fallujah as a military journalist two years ago when she discovered she was pregnant. As a female Marine, a distinct minority in the branch, Amy was fearful of going to her chain of command to explain her situation.
For military women, who lack all rights to medical privacy, facing an unplanned pregnancy is a daunting obstacle. Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress, military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself). . . .Caitlin Borgmann, a CUNY law professor and board member of the National Abortion Federation, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times this August when the paper ran a story on the challenges facing American servicewomen that omitted mention of the abortion ban altogether. Borgmann says that while reproductive rights groups following this issue hoped the Obama transition would address the ban, the failure of the new government to aggressively defend reproductive freedom has left the rights of military women a largely forgotten inequality. . . .