December 19, 2012 — House and Senate conferees on Tuesday agreed on a final Department of Defense authorization bill that includes a provision allowing the military's health plan to cover abortion in cases of rape or incest, the Huffington Post reports.
The Senate in early December unanimously passed a version of the bill (S 3254) that included the amendment, but the House version (HR 4310) omitted the provision. The Senate amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), would bring the military's coverage of abortion in line with other federal health insurance programs (Bassett, Huffington Post, 12/18).
At a news conference on Tuesday, top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services committees lauded the completion of the bill as a rare instance of bipartisanship (Cassata, AP/U-T San Diego, 12/18).
In a statement, Shaheen said, "With the inclusion of my amendment in the final defense bill, we've made an important step to restoring equity to military service women." She added, "I'm proud of my colleagues in both Houses of Congress and of both parties who are going to allow us to right this wrong" (Huffington Post, 12/18).
The House is expected to take up the final legislation on Thursday, clearing the way for it to pass in the Senate and proceed to President Obama (Sorcher, National Journal, 12/18).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership