Senate Defense Bill Promotes Women's Equality, New York Times Editorial States
December 7, 2012 — The Senate this week approved a Department of Defense authorization bill (S 3254) that "contains two important provisions promoting equitable treatment of women," a New York Times editorial states, adding, "Both merit retention in the final bill now being negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee."
The first provision, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), would allow the military's health plan to cover abortion care in cases of rape or incest . Under current law, abortion is only covered when carrying a pregnancy to term endangers a woman's life.
"The change should not be controversial, given the serious problem of sexual assault among service members," the editorial writes, adding that the measure would "give military women the same coverage now afforded civilians who work for the federal government, rely on Medicaid or women who are raped while serving time in prison."
A second amendment, by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas), would require the Pentagon to create a strategy that protects Afghan women's rights to education and health care, as well as "promote security for women as troops are withdrawn" from Afghanistan. The provision "offers hope for the Afghan women who fear they will be even more vulnerable to harsh customs and the men who impose them after" U.S. troops leave, the editorial concludes (New York Times, 12/6).