What Is the Shaheen Amendment?


Today more than 400,000 women serve in the Armed Forces and defend our nation. Their families and dependents also serve and sacrifice. Yet they are denied insurance coverage of abortion if they become pregnant as a result of rape and incest.

Federal law allows service women and military dependents to obtain abortion care in a military facility if they become pregnant after rape or incest but they are made to pay out-of-pocket. Federal insurance coverage is only available if the woman's life is endangered by the pregnancy.

This policy is unfair and unjust given the sacrifices of our military women, wives and daughters. Our government provides civilian women, like federal employees, with insurance coverage for abortion in the case of rape and incest and it should provide servicewomen and dependents with the same care. It is a basic matter of fairness.

Where we are today.

On May 24, 2012 the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would reverse this policy and allow military women and dependents to receive insurance coverage of abortion in cases of rape or incest.

The amendment was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 16-10.

What's next?

The NDAA (with the Shaheen Amendment incorporated into it) will go to the Senate floor where senators will debate the entire bill.

What happened last year.

Senator Shaheen first introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA to lift the current ban, (learn more), on insurance coverage for abortion when a servicewoman or military dependent is pregnant after rape or incest in November 2011. Unfortunately, the amendment did not come to the floor for a vote.