Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) believes there’s still a chance that a recent amendment allowing abortions at military hospitals won’t become law.
Last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed an amendment by Sen. Roland Burris (D.-Ill.) that alters the current ban on performing abortions in military facilities. The amendment—part of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act—makes two changes to the current U.S. code: First, it eliminates the phrase “restriction on use of funds” in the section which says the Defense Department can’t use funds to perform abortions except for the life of the mother. Second, it strikes the provision that refuses abortions on DOD facilities at all, except for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
Inhofe, who sits on the committee, called Burris’ attempt the “extreme” of a pro-abortion effort. But he said that since the House did not have any language on the issue, the amendment becomes a “conferenceable” item—meaning any differences in the two bills will have to be reconciled in a House/Senate conference.
Inhofe was confident about the debate in conference, should the provision make it that far.
“I think we’ll be able to defeat this,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe also said he plans to bring an amendment to the Senate floor that would challenge the Burris amendment.
“So we have several shots at it—we have a conference shot, we have a floor shot,” Inhofe said.
The New York Times reported that opponents of the provision say it amounts to taxpayer-funded abortion since government facilities are taxpayer funded, even if the procedure itself isn’t. The Times said that was the reason Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson voted against the amendment in committee.
Below is the section of U.S. code which the Burris amendment alters:
(a) Restriction on Use of Funds — Funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
(b) Restriction on Use of Facilities — No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.
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