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Veterans, ACLU petition Congress to fund military abortions in cases of rape

"As a soldier in Iraq, I put my life on the line for my country. I fought for the freedom and justice our country stands for. Yet, I’m denied proper reproductive health care benefits; denied abortion care even if I’m the victim of rape. I expected the horror of war in Iraq, but I expected better from my own government," say three veterans, Dottie Guy, Kayla Williams and Shannon Clark, in a 30-second spot.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) teamed up with "Stand with Servicewomen," a group dedicated to changing the Defense Department rules on abortion coverage, in launching the ads, which are set to air in the Washington, D.C., area throughout June.

In May the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment, introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), that would allow funding for such abortions in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Currently only cases where a woman’s life is in danger are allowed.

"This is about equity,” said Shaheen in a statement at the time. “Civilian women who depend on the federal government for health insurance — whether they are postal workers or Medicaid recipients — have the right to access affordable abortion care if they are sexually assaulted. It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same.”

However, the House version of the Defense Authorization did not include a similar provision, and previous attempts to reverse the ban have been rejected as well.

Abortion coverage is one of many contentious policies where the two chambers disagree, including provisions on same-sex marriage and on a new East Coast missile defense site.

Read more on the looming Defense bill budget fights in Congress on DEFCON Hill blog.

—Jeremy Herb contributed.

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