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(WASHINGTON, DC) – Despite the support of more than half the U.S. Senate, congressional conferees dropped an amendment to the DOD Authorization bill that would have guaranteed the constitutionally-protected reproductive health rights of American servicewomen stationed overseas.

Currently, American servicewomen are prevented from receiving privately funded abortion services on U.S. military bases overseas. The Murray-Snowe amendment, offered with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), would have lifted these restrictions.

In June, the Senate approved Murray-Snowe by a 52-40 margin to the Department of Defense authorization bill. The amendment would have guaranteed full access to reproductive health services for military women stationed abroad. President Bush had threatened to veto the bill if Murray-Snowe had been included.

The ban on privately-funded abortions in military hospitals has been in effect since 1995, when an anti-choice majority in Congress prohibited the use of private funds for abortion services at overseas military facilities.

Senator Murray issued the following statement:

"I am deeply disappointed by the decision to drop the Murray-Snowe amendment from the Defense Authorization bill. It is simply outrageous that we deny female military personnel access to safe, affordable, and legal reproductive health care services. We ask these women to serve their country and defend our homeland, but we deny them basic rights afforded all women here at home.

This is the same amendment that we have been offering since 1995 and will continue to offer until we restore this important health care protection for women serving abroad.

The amendment would not provide or authorize any federal funding for abortion services at military facilities; women would be required to pay for the procedure themselves. The amendment would simply allow existing facilities to provide safe reproductive services to active-duty personnel and their families. Regardless of one's view on abortion, it is simply wrong to place women at risk.

While some may oppose a woman's right to make her own family planning decisions, the Supreme Court and a majority of Americans support this right. Right now, active duty service women stationed overseas must surrender this right when they volunteer to defend our country. It is sadly ironic that we send women overseas to protect our rights, yet in the process we rob them of vital Constitutional protections."