Another winning issue

House Republicans are blocking access to abortion for servicewomen who get raped overseas.

House Republicans are blocking access to abortion for servicewomen who get raped abroad. What fraction of the voters do you think agree with them? And can we hope that the Obama Administration will do what’s needed to make sure that the obstruction gets headlines? Somehow I suspect the GOP would fold, which would be good substantively and also a fitting humiliation for them.

Footnote A gold star for anyone who can come up with an even halfway plausible excuse for the GOP position: i.e., one that would convince anyone but a hard-core RTL fanatic.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

19 thoughts on “Another winning issue”

  1. Whatever you think of the policy, (And I find it a bit dubious myself.) based on reading the article linked to, it might be more accurate to say, “Pentagon blocks access to abortion for service women who get raped abroad, House Republicans decline to override Pentagon.”

    1. @brett–i agree with your comment to the extent that i understand it. (talk about a rare event ;))

      @mark–i think brett should get your gold star. he’s accidentally stumbled on an argument that might convince a non-fanatic–“we don’t want to go against the policies of the military leadership.” i know they’ll go against the leadership when it suits their purposes but the gop might still be able to pull off that as an argument.

    2. I have no independent knowledge of this subject, just this Mother Jones article. The article does not make clear at all how much of the current restriction is Pentagon policy and how much is in the law:

      “Current Pentagon policy is more restrictive than the 1976 Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to provide abortion services except in the case of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is endangered. The DOD enacted its stricter, life-of-the-mother-only limit on abortions in 1979. In 1988, the law was tightened again—Congress now forbids women from using their own money to pay for abortions in military health centers unless they are a victim of rape or incest, or if their life is at risk.”

      Also, nowhere in the story do I find support for the word “abroad” in the first sentence of Mark’s post.

      1. i’m not sure where the “abroad” piece comes from either but if you follow the links offered in the article you can see which restrictions were put into place by statute and which by dod policy.

        1. The policy applies everywhere. But abortions are still legal, cheap, and safe in the U.S., so the rule that you have to go off base and pay for it yourself is disgusting in principle but not very onerous in practice. Not so much in Afghanistan.

          What gives Brett the idea that the current policy was dreamed up by the brass rather than by some combination of some previous White House and Congress I can’t possibly understand. What conceivable interest would the military have in denying health benefits to its members? If the decision could be made administratively, the Administration could just tell DoD to get on with it. So for “current Pentagon policy” read “policy currently imposed on the Pentagon by statute.”

          1. sorry mark, but the most onerous part of the restrictions forbidding the use of private funds to have an abortion on base was made by the dod. the quote from the guttmacher article–” Without consulting Congress, DOD established a policy that extended the ban on DOD funds to prohibit women from using their own funds to obtain an abortion at military facilities overseas.”

          2. admittedly, congress later made that statutory, but that one started with the reagan/bush dod.

          3. “What gives Brett the idea that the current policy was dreamed up by the brass rather than by some combination of some previous White House and Congress I can’t possibly understand.”

            Mark, please. You know Brett. Just tell the truth and shame the Devil, as they say.

          4. What gave me that idea, to the extent I had it, was reading the article you linked to. Which makes fairly clear that, in the present instance, it’s the Pentagon that’s doing the “blocking”, and Republicans are just refusing to tell them to stop. Which might well strike you as a trivial distinction, but you did have the option of correctly describing what was going on.

            You just, predictably, refused to exercise it.

      2. IOW, Brett’s record of dishonesty still holds.

        In addition, the right has rarely had problems with overriding the Pentagon.

  2. Federal government shouldn’t fund abortions for employees (or anyone else) period. So how about instead of extending this benefit to servicewomen, we repeal it for all other federal employees.

    1. you left off four improtant words to your comment let me edit your comment so that it makes sense.

      corrected bux–“In my opinion the federal government shouldn’t fund abortions for employees (or anyone else) period. So how about instead of extending this benefit to servicewomen, we repeal it for all other federal employees.”

      1. Well navarro, since all anyone is talking about on a blog site is an opinion anyways, then I take those four words for granted. But since you presumably have truth, and I merely have opinions, why don’t you set me straight with the truth.

        1. i’m making no claims to the truth here.

          although i try to distinguish between my opinion statements and my statements of fact, if you take those four words for granted every time you post then i apologize for annoying you.

        2. True. But my opinion leaves each person free to follow the dictates of her own conscience and form her own relationship with God…or not. Your opinion would force people to follow the dictates of YOUR conscience, based upon YOUR understanding of and relationship with YOUR God. I’ll go with my opinion which allows people to decide these very difficult and personal and private and emotion-laden issues for themselves. There is nothing that says that my opinion would force you or yours to make decisions which are against your beliefs.

          And as for the taxpayer-funded cr…er, issue – my taxes pay for a whole lotta stuff I believe is illegal, immoral, or completely worthless, and I bet pretty much everyone feels the same. Why one issue should be different than, say, my taxes funding completely uncalled-for wars, or state-sanctioned torture and inhumane treatment, I really don’t get.

    2. Let’s be clear what Bux’s comment means, in this context. “When a Taliban terrorist rapes an American servicewoman in Afghanistan, she should be forced by American law to bear the rapist’s child.” It’s not just a matter of funding: if the base hospital refuses to perform an abortion, the woman has no other alternative. If Bux wants to persuade that victim to bear her assailant’s child, he’s welcome to try. But he’s not satisfied with persuasion; he wants to use force.

      1. Yes, I do want to force a woman not to have the baby inside of her murdered. I’m satisfied with this use of force.

  3. If Steven Kilcullen is representative of the conservative view of the presence of females in the military, the excuse is practically tautological. I.e., wimmenfolk have no business being out here in injun country in the first place, so its their own fault if they get raped and pregnant, which only goes to show their unfitness for service since they got raped and pregnant, which proves that they shouldn’t be here… etc. etc.

  4. Mark’s hypothetical of the servicewoman being raped by a Taliban terrorist is neat but unrealistic. She is far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier; a situation for which the Pentagon’s failure of discipline would be partly responsible.
    If the Pentagon is going to take paternalism so far as to force the woman to give birth to an unwanted baby, it should logically bear the costs of bringing him or her up: at least $144,000 to age 17, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture. Double it if you count the college years before full economic independence.

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