Abortion coverage urged for military women

On Monday, former Secretary of State and retired Gen. Colin Powell and dozens of other military leaders urged Congress to support abortion coverage for servicewomen in cases of rape and incest, ABC News’ “The Note” reports.

The Senate last week unanimously passed a Department of Defense authorization bill (S 3254) that includes an amendment by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would allow the military’s health plan to cover abortion in those cases (Miller, “The Note,” ABC News, 12/10).

In a letter addressed to the heads and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the military leaders wrote, “Unlike other current federal restrictions on abortion coverage, the military ban provides no exception for cases of rape and incest,” adding that the current policy is “unfair and must be changed.”

The letter continued that “servicewomen commit their lives to defending our freedoms” and urged lawmakers to “respect their service and sacrifice and provide them with the same level of health care coverage it provides civilians.”

The legislation is before a bipartisan conference committee, which will determine whether the amendment is included in the final version of the legislation. Three of the four top members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees support the amendment (Bassett, Huffington Post, 12/10).