Sunday, January 06, 2013

Don't Appoint Anti-Choice Senator

At, Emily Bockrath has started a petition entitled "Protect America's Servicewomen: Don't Appoint Anti-Choice Senator to Defense Secretary Position."  To sign it, click on the link.  Here's Bockrath's explanation of her petition.

Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: To protect the sexual health of U.S. servicewomen by stopping the appointment of anti-choice candidate, Chuck Hagel, for the position of defense secretary.

Recently, Chuck Hagel, a former senator opposed to abortion rights, has become the top choice in President Obama’s consideration for the appointment of the next defense secretary. Hagel has a long history of opposing women’s right to choose and, more specifically, limiting access to abortion for servicewomen stationed abroad. In the past Hagel told the Omaha World Herald that he did not believe in exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape and incest because the numbers of pregnancies that result from these violent acts are not “relevant.” He has also repeatedly voted against allowing female soldiers to pay out of pocket for their abortions while abroad. Beginning in 2013, the Defense Department health insurance plan will cover abortions for servicewomen who become pregnant as a result of rape. If Chuck Hagel assumes the position of defense secretary, it will be his duty to enforce this new policy, which he has clearly opposed in the past.

As women make up 20 percent of the armed forces, ensuring the protection of the sexual health of female soldiers is important for a number of reasons. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there has been a recent increase in the number of sexual assault reports in the military. Reports indicate that 88 percent of the victims are female, and 33 percent of servicewomen have experienced attempted or completed rape. In addition, the Defense Department estimates that 20 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported. Many of the countries in which the U.S. military is stationed prohibit abortion altogether, making the military health facilities the only option for servicewomen to receive an abortion. If abortion services are denied to these women, they could be forced to carry the unwanted pregnancy to term or to return back to the U.S. to obtain an abortion, jeopardizing their military careers and health.

These statistics are unacceptable in their own right, but the chance that servicewomen’s access to abortion could be inhibited is too big a risk to take. With Hagel’s political history, this risk could become a reality and endanger the health of thousands of women. Sign the petition below to tell President Obama to protect the sexual health of female service personnel by reconsidering his appointment of Chuck Hagel to the defense secretary position.

[Again, the petition can be found here.]
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