The Senate attached an amendment Thursday to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that seeks to lift the ban on abortion insurance coverage for women in the military who are victims of rape, according to RH Reality Check.
Known as the Shaheen Amendment, named for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) who first introduced the amendment in November 2011, seeks to overturn the longstanding ban, which does not exist for other federal employees. Some 400,000 women serve in the military.
The activist group Stand with Servicewomen has formed to support the amendment and created a thoughtful and tear-jerking video that lays out the case for overturning the ban. The group is also anonymously collecting stories of sexual assault.
“The policy makes no sense on any level,” retired Capt. Joellen Oslund of the Navy Reserve said in the video. “And it’s a huge blow to morale. You take a woman who has suffered what is probably the most horrific event in her life, and then tell her she’s on her own. She has to find a way to make it happen and she has to pay for it herself.”
“I don’t think it’s something that we’re giving them. I think it’s something that we owe them,” said retired Chief Mater Sargent Cindy McNally of the U.S. Air Force.
The group says sexual assault in the military is “under reported.” Even so, the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response’s (SAPR) 2011 report on sexual assault in the military, released in April, found that DOD received 2,723 reports of sexual assault in which service members were the victims that year. DOD’s SAPR office has only been in place since 2005, when Congress compelled it to establish such a program.
The issue of sexual assault in the military has received increasing attention in recent months since a number of women servicemembers came forward and told CNN in April that when they reported sexual assaults to the military, they received a “psychiatric diagnosis and military discharge.”
The NDAA is considered a “must pass” bill for the Senate.
Watch the video, uploaded to YouTube on March 24.