Dear President Bush,
I'm writing to urge you to lift the ban on abortions in the military. Freedom of choice is an American right, yet for women soldiers serving overseas it can be difficult and costly, or even impossible to obtain an abortion. Not only does the ban prevent servicewomen from obtaining an abortion from military doctors, the procedure is not covered by their health insurance should they be able to find a private clinic that will perform the procedure. This is a particularly serious concern for women serving in countries in which abortion is illegal, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as they find themselves with nowhere to turn.
I am particularly concerned about the ban's effects on servicewomen who become pregnant as a result of rape. It is not uncommon for servicewomen to be sexually assaulted, often by superior officers. The Department of Defense reported that there were 1,012 incidents of sexual assault on service members in 2003, and 901 in 2002.
I find it particularly hypocritical that the military does not cover the cost of abortion even in the case of rape or incest, while it does cover the cost of cosmetic surgery, such as breast implants, nose jobs, and liposuction. The official explanation for covering these frivolous cosmetic surgeries is to allow military surgeons to stay in good practice for reconstructive surgery of battle wounds, but how liposuction and breast implants figure into the equation is anybody's guess.
I urge Congress to get its priorities straight and respect the rights of American servicewomen by lifting the ban on abortions in the military.