This article was written in conjunction with Stand With Servicewomen, a coalition of retired and former veterans seeking to reverse the current ban on abortion coverage for servicewomen and dependents who are the victims of rape or incest.
WASHINGTON – The ACLU, in conjunction with a group of retired military leaders and veterans, has launched a new ad campaign targeting the Department of Defense’s ban on servicewomen using their insurance to pay for abortion services if they become pregnant as the result of rape or incest. The ads were released as part of a coalition effort, Stand With Servicewomen, designed to raise awareness of, and ultimately end, this unfair policy.
One ad features three female veterans – Dottie Guy, Kayla Williams and Shannon Clark, who have recently returned from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the ad they speak passionately on behalf of women currently serving in the military. Seated in front of a bank of American flags, each shares a part of the following:
“As a soldier in Iraq, I put my life on the line to protect and defend my country. I fought for the freedom and justice our country stands for. Yet, I’m denied proper reproductive health care benefits; denied abortion care even if I’m the victim of rape. I expected the horror of war in Iraq – but I expected better from my own government.”
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In another ad, , Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, a three-star general and 31-year Army veteran, also speaks out against the abortion coverage ban in cases of rape.
“Over 250,000 women have served our country with honor and courage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, our servicewomen are denied coverage for abortion… even if they’re raped. We have an obligation to provide military women with the care their service to our country demands. Women in the military deserve better care. Period.”
Stand With Servicewomen is working to reverse the abortion coverage ban by supporting the Shaheen Amendment. In a press conference scheduled for later this morning, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-N.H.) will discuss her amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would repeal the ban on abortion care coverage for servicewomen who have been raped. The amendment was adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee in a bipartisan vote on May 24.
The ads are scheduled to run in rotation throughout June in the greater Washington D.C. area. They can be viewed at www.standwithservicewomen.org, along with videos, blogs and news featuring former and retired military leaders.