Last week in closed committee Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill.) offered an amendment to strike Section 1093(b)1 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which passed by a vote of 15-12. The amendment breaks with current longstanding policy and would permit the performance of abortions in both domestic and overseas military facilities. Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) was the only Democrat to vote against the amendment. List of the full committee members.

A similar amendment to allow abortions in overseas military facilities was most recently offered in the House in 2006 when it failed by a vote of 191-237. The Burris amendment is more expansive than the 2006 amendment because it allows abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases.

Senator Wicker led the opposition to the amendment. The speech he gave on the Senate floor on the day following the hearing is available here. Following is an excerpt of his remarks:

“The committee yesterday decided to reverse this long-standing policy and to say that indeed abortions, for whatever reason, will be performed in these facilities that are paid for by taxpayer expense that are there for the care of our service members to keep them healthy and to repair their injuries. We’re going to use those facilities for elective abortions. If this amendment stands—and I guarantee you it will be challenged on the floor of the House and Senate, with separate amendments — Members will be given a chance to vote on this separate issue. But if this stands, our military installations, Fort Bragg, Columbus Air Force Base, Keesler Air Force Base in my home state of Mississippi, their medical facilities will be able to be used for abortions, performed late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selection, abortions performed for any reason. Abortion-at-will will be the requirement for our military installations and the medical facilities on those installations.”

Current law prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense (DOD) medical personnel or in DOD medical facilities except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. There is no distinction in this policy between military facilities within the United States and those overseas. A separate provision prohibits the use of DOD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother.

The Burris amendment will effectively turn our military medical facilities into abortion clinics and force American taxpayers to underwrite the use of military facilities, the procurement of additional equipment, and the use of needed military personnel to perform abortions. In addition, when President Clinton allowed abortions in military facilities from 1993 to 1996, all military physicians (as well as many nurses and supporting personnel) refused to perform or assist in elective abortions and in response, the administration sought to hire civilians to do abortions. If the Burris amendment were enacted, not only could taxpayer funded facilities be used to support abortion on demand, but resources could also be used to search for, hire, and transport new personnel simply so that abortions could be performed.

Life Legal’s Executive Director, Dana Cody, states “Military personnel and their families deserve better. There should be no implication that the preborn children of our military are not welcome as United States citizens after the service and sacrifice of their parents. As a military mom I am outraged and as a taxpayer I say enough is enough! We encourage you to follow the progress of this bill and to contact your United States Senator.” The contact information for your United States Senator can be found at

1 U.S. Code Title 10 USC Sec 1093 (In law since 1996)
(a) Restriction on Use of Funds—funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term.
(b) Restriction on Use of Facilities—No medical treatment facility or other facility of the Department of Defense may be used to perform an abortion except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.