"It's a simple issue," Brown said on the Senate floor. "Those who are serving in harm's way who are victims of such horrific crimes should be afforded the same rights as citizens they protect."
"I would urge you to make every effort to work with your members and ensure that the Shaheen Amendment language passes the House and becomes law," Brown wrote.
A copy of Brown's letter follows here:
June 13, 2012
Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and Whip McCarthy,
As you know, the Senate Armed Services Committee recently considered and passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2013, and it awaits consideration by the full Senate. During committee markup proceedings, I joined with members on both sides of the aisle in supporting the Shaheen Amendment, which would ensure that the women who serve in our Armed Forces are provided the same access to abortion services in cases of rape or incest that civilian federal employees currently have.
Sexual assault of women servicemembers has been recently exposed as far more prevalent than anyone previously thought. The Pentagon believes such crimes are vastly underreported and says about 19,000 assaults are committed every year. Furthermore, women are serving in harm’s way and in dangerous locations. At times, they have no access to safe, non-military health services. Given their courageous service, they deserve our care and protection. The language of the Shaheen amendment is consistent with the long-standing Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortions, except for the victims of rape and incest or when the life of the mother is at stake. Military victims of such horrific crimes should be afforded the same rights as the regular citizens they protect who rely on federal funding for their healthcare.
The Shaheen amendment passed 16-10 on a bipartisan basis in committee, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure it remains included when the full Senate takes up the defense authorization bill. I am disappointed that the House Armed Services Committee did not include a similar provision in their version of the bill. I would urge you to make every effort to work with your members and ensure that the Shaheen Amendment language passes the House and becomes law. Extending these provisions to our military service women is the right thing to do.
Scott P. Brown
United States Senator