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Letter to Members of the House of Representatives

Urging Support to an Amendment which would Overturn the Ban on Privately Funded Abortions in the Military

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a non-profit legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting and defending women’s reproductive rights worldwide, we urge you to support Representative Sanchez’ amendment to the fiscal year (FY) 2003 National Defense Authorization Act, which would repeal the current ban on privately funded abortion services at U.S. military hospitals. The ban on over 100,000 U.S. servicewomen and military dependents from receiving full legal medical care is a clear violation of their basic human rights – the very rights they are being sent overseas to protect.

As many of our nation’s men and women are currently serving around the world to protect the United States, we are reminded of the fundamental rights and freedoms for which our nation stands and which our military personnel are so courageously defending. Those rights are embodied not only in our U.S. Constitution, but are also recognized throughout the world as enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments.

One of the most important freedoms is the right of the individual – not government – to make decisions concerning his or her own body, including decisions as personal as whether or not to carry a pregnancy. This right was recognized almost three decades ago in Roe v. Wade and was confirmed in the Center for Reproductive Rights' recent Supreme Court case, Stenberg v. Carhart.

This right is also endorsed in the agreement made at the five-year review of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which the United States has made a public commitment to the international community and to its own citizens to fulfill. In this document, the United States agreed to ensure that:

In circumstances where abortion is not against the law, health systems should train and equip health-service providers and should take other measures to ensure that such abortion is safe and accessible. Additional measures should be taken to safeguard women’s health. Key actions for the further implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, para 63(iii).

The current restriction on women’s access to safe and legal abortion contravenes this commitment and the rights guaranteed to women in the United States under our Constitution.

The Center for Reproductive Rights urges you to defend the rights of U.S. servicewomen by supporting the Sanchez Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act.