U.S. Senate Vote on Military Abortions Is Criticized

Opponents Call Measure an End Run to Secure Federal Funds

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 23, 2002 ').insertAfter("div.entry-content").css({'display': 'block', 'width' : 'auto', 'height' : 'auto', 'margin-bottom' : '18px', 'text-align' : 'center' }); /* Multiple style */

The U.S. Senate on Friday voted 52-40 to allow servicewomen to get such privately funded abortions, rejecting a current ban on most similar procedures at facilities overseas.

The vote aims to loosen a ban that has been in effect since 1996. It portends a political fight between the Democratic-led Senate and the Bush administration, which supports the ban, as well as the Republican-led House of Representatives.

U.S. military women who want to kill their unborn children now must get a commanding officer´s approval for travel back to the United States for abortions or rely on the host country´s facilities.

Overseas military hospitals now are allowed to perform abortions only in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is endangered.

Democrat Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, a co-sponsor of the amendment, said the abortion costs would be paid by the women´s private funds. It also would not force a medical provider to perform abortions, exempting personnel with moral, religious or ethical objections, she said, according to news reports.

But according to Reuters, Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, who opposed the measure, said, «This attempts to turn taxpayer-funded Department of Defense medical treatment facilities into, unfortunately, abortion clinics.»

Brownback and other foes said the amendment violates the ban on federal funding of abortions because tax dollars used to build, equip and staff the military facilities could not be separated from costs of the procedure.

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