WASHINGTON (May 25, 2005)— The House of Representatives today rejected a measure to allow elective abortions in military hospitals overseas by a vote of 233 to 194.
"Our military hospitals have a proud and honorable tradition of saving lives in the most threatening regions and circumstances," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "They should not be forced into the dishonorable business of abortion."
In 1988 the Reagan Administration established a policy prohibiting elective abortions in military hospitals. The policy was overturned by President Clinton in one of his first official acts in 1993, but a military survey of Army, Navy, and Air Force doctors stationed in Europe was unable to find medical personnel in the armed services willing to perform abortions. Congress overturned the Clinton policy in 1996 and the House measure today was an attempt to reinstate it.
"We know from experience that military physicians and nurses do not want to perform abortions," said Ruse. "Forcing Americans to put their military hospitals in the service of this controversial and unnecessary procedure is an outrage."
"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 Ruse. "We congratulate the House of Representatives for rejecting an amendment which would have compelled our nation's fine military hospitals around the world to perform abortions on demand."
The measure, an amendment to the FY 2006 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1815) offered by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Ca), was intended to strike from existing law a longstanding ban on the performance of abortions at military hospitals overseas. The existing ban contains exceptions for cases where the mother's life is endangered or where pregnancy occurred from rape or incest.