Members of Military Support Reproductive Rights for Servicewomen



This week, 19 members of the U.S. Armed Forces have come to D.C. from across the country to advocate for the reproductive rights of servicewomen to their Members of Congress. These American heroes – members of the Army, Reserves, Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), Air Force, Navy, and Marines – have seen firsthand the discrimination that servicewomen face.

More than 400,000 women serve in the Armed Forces, and, like all military personnel, receive their health insurance from the Department of Defense’s Military Health System. But the health insurance available to servicewomen differs significantly from every other health insurance plan provided by the federal government in that it does NOT cover abortion services in the cases of rape or incest. Rather, servicewomen can only receive insurance coverage for abortion services if their lives are in danger.

The current policy is particularly unjust and unfair in light of the alarmingly high rates of sexual assault in the military. According to the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2010 numbers, 3,158 military sexual assaults were reported. That number alone is shocking, but it barely scratches the surface because most servicewomen who have experienced sexual violence do not report the incident. Researchers estimate that over time, taking into account the percentage of military sexual assaults that go unreported, up to one-third of women experience an attempted or completed rape during their military service.

This week, members of the military are making their voice heard about this injustice by speaking with their elected officials about the MARCH Act (MARCH stands for Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health) to restore abortion coverage to military women who are survivors of rape and incest. The MARCH Act (H.R. 2085/S. 1214) would bring the Department of Defense’s Military Health System in line with other federal health insurance programs, which provide low-income women on Medicaid, federal employees, women who receive health care through the Indian Health Service, and women in federal prisons with coverage for abortion services in the cases of rape, incest and when their lives are in danger. The MARCH Act would also lift the ban on servicewomen using their OWN, private money to pay for abortion services in military facilities.

Lend your support by participating in this lobby day virtually: Urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the MARCH Act!

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Katharine Nasielski

About Katharine Nasielski

Katharine Burd Nasielski is the Communications Associate at the RAC and was an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant from 2011-2012. She graduated in 2011 from Northwestern University and is originally from Philadelphia, PA where she is a member of Society Hill Synagogue.

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