Washington (June 21, 2002) -- A spokeswoman for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized a vote by the U.S. Senate today to amend the Defense Authorization bill to lift the ban on abortions at military bases.
"Our military hospitals have a proud and honorable tradition of saving lives in the most threatening regions and circumstances. They should not be forced into the dishonorable business of abortion," said Cathleen A. Cleaver, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB's Secretariat for Pro-life Activities.
The 1988 Reagan Administration policy prohibiting elective abortions in military hospitals was overturned by President Clinton in one of his first official acts in 1993. Nevertheless, a military survey of Army, Navy, and Air Force doctors stationed in Europe found that they all refused to perform the procedure. Congress overturned the Clinton policy in 1996 and the Senate's action today is an attempt to reinstate it. The House recently defeated a similar measure on its version of the Defense bill.
"We know from experience that military physicians and nurses do not want to perform abortions. But forcing Americans to put their military hospitals in the service of this controversial and unnecessary procedure is an outrage. Military hospitals should not be diverted to this use," Cleaver said.
"Abortion is not health care. It destroys the life of a child and represents an utter failure to address the real needs of women," said Cleaver. "We urge House-Senate conferees to reverse this policy before final passage."