Provision to to Pay for Abortions Remains in Military Funding Bill
House and Senate negotiators working on a Defense Department budget bill have agreed to keep a provision that would authorize the military to pay for abortions for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, it is being reported.
The provision, which was not included in the House version of the bill, was sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and has been praised by abortion advocates.
But many women who’ve been there — including the members of the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Pregnant By Sexual Assault (WPSA) — say that abortion will harm, not help, women who become pregnant through sexual assault.
The group says that covering abortion fosters the expectation that women who become pregnant through sexual assault want and need abortions, despite research showing that only half of women in such situations have abortions and that many believe abortion only causes additional problems.
If abortion is seen as the solution, women who become pregnant through rape will be more likely to be pressured to abort, face discrimination or disbelief about their stories and have difficulty finding the support they need.
The book Victims and Victors, which was based on one of the only surveys ever done of women who became pregnant through rape or incest, includes the story of a woman who was pressured to abort by medical personnel and family members after becoming pregnant through rape while her husband was in the military:
Abortion was very strongly encouraged by the military medical personnel, as well as by my husband and family. My husband said, ‘Abortion now,’ while I was still in the hospital. He called my parents, who agreed with him. I was told I was emotionally unable to make the decision, so my husband would make if for me. I checked myself out of the hospital to escape a forced abortion. I could not rationalize how the violent act committed against me gave me the right to commit a violent act against an innocent child …
Women and girls who become pregnant through rape or incest need real support and resources, not the additional trauma of abortion. As rape survivor Kathleen pointed out in Victims and Victors:
Women who have gone through the trauma of rape or incest need to be counseled, cared for and listened to. If they conceived, they need to be encouraged to work through [any] anger and bitterness. I believe that to encourage a woman to have an abortion is to add even more violence to her life. … [A] woman is most vulnerable at a time such as this, and doesn’t need to be pounced upon by yet another act of violence. She needs someone to truly listen to her, care for her, and give her time to heal.
WPSA is petitioning Congress and state legislators to hold hearings where women who’ve been there can share their stories and talk about their needs and concerns.
Women Who Became Pregnant Through Sexual Assault Say, “Ask Us”
Support the WPSA Petition to Congress and State Legislators
The Hard Cases: New Facts, New Answers (reproducible download)
Victims and Victors Book