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(WASHINGTON, D.C) --- By a vote of 52-40, the Senate today approved the Murray amendment, lifting the ban on allowing overseas military hospitals to perform abortions with private funds.

The ban had 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.

"Today's vote will ensure that women serving in the military and military spouses can finally exercise the freedoms they are helping to defend overseas," Senator Murray said.

Since the ban went into effect, Murray and her Republican co-sponsor Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) have repeatedly offered the amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill. Due to the events of September 11th, the amendment was not offered in 2001; in 2000 the amendment was defeated 50-49. In 1999 it was defeated 51-49. Today's passage is a huge step forward for the legislation.

"Here at home, women have the right to choose. They have Constitutionally-protected access to safe and legal reproductive health services. This is not the case for military women living and serving overseas," Murray continued. "These women are committed to protecting our rights as free citizens and this amendment guarantees them one of the most basic rights afforded to all women in this country."

Supported by such groups as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Women's Association, the Murray amendment is essential to providing servicewomen with access to a full range of reproductive health care services.

"This is an important women's health amendment. Women should be able to rely on their base hospital and military health care providers to meet all of their health care needs."

The amendment now becomes part of the Senate Defense Authorization bill, which is expected to be voted on next week.