June 09, 2022

Gillibrand Leads March Act In The Senate To Protect The Right To Abortion For Service Members

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is introducing the MARCH for Servicemembers Act in the Senate to protect the right to abortion for service members. This bicameral legislation would allow military medical treatment facilities (MTF) to provide abortion services and for the military to cover associated costs. Senators Shaheen (D-NH), Blumenthal (D-CT), and Hirono (D-HI) are original cosponsors of this legislation.

“Our service members defend our freedom, but women in our armed services will lose freedom of autonomy over their own bodies if Roe is overturned. While states like New York will remain a safe haven for reproductive freedom, the reproductive rights of women serving at Fort Hood in Texas or other conservative states could be in jeopardy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The MARCH for Servicemembers Act would empower the Department of Defense to protect the constitutional right for service members to make decisions they need to safeguard their health. We need to honor our service members and provide women on the front lines with the health care services they deserve, no matter where they are stationed. That’s why, as chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, I am proud to introduce the MARCH Act and will fight for its passage.

 

“I’m proud to help lead this legislation to safeguard reproductive health care, including abortion services, for U.S. servicewomen. This bill is urgently needed as we face a likely reversal of Roe v. Wade, which would carry broad and serious implications for women around the country, including women in the military. Servicewomen are entrusted with safeguarding our liberty, including, if necessary, to lay down their lives for our country – what does it say about our values if we maintain that expectation while enforcing policies that strip women in uniform of their own personal freedoms and rights to make private health decisions? There is too much at stake – I urge leaders in Congress to work with us to move this legislation swiftly through Congress,” said Senator Shaheen.

“With reproductive freedom under attack across our country, it is crucial that we protect access to safe, legal abortion services for all – including our service members and their families,” said Senator Hirono. “If the far-right majority on the Supreme Court overturns Roe, thousands of people stationed in states that restrict abortion could suddenly be denied their right to abortion services. We can’t let that happen. By allowing the military to provide and pay for reproductive health care, the MARCH for Servicemembers Act will help protect abortion access for military personnel and families. Reproductive freedom is a fundamental right, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to protect that right for our brave service members and every person in our country.”

 

“This legislation will provide our servicemembers with access to safe, reliable reproductive healthcare – a right that should be available to all Americans,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Those in uniform fighting to defend and uphold our freedoms deserve the freedom to make their own choices about their own bodies. As courts and state legislatures across the country roll back and eliminate access to abortion, this measure safeguards against harmful restrictions and obstacles standing between providers and patients. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this urgent effort.”     

“Abortion care and coverage within the military health care system is already out of reach for many service members and their families. At a time when hostile state legislators are decimating abortion access and the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the right to abortion altogether, our federal lawmakers should be ensuring that our policies protect abortion care. That is why we strongly support the MARCH Act, a bill that would eliminate federal bans on abortion in the military,” said Leila Abolfazli, Director of Federal Reproductive Rights at NWLC. “No one is free unless we can all control our own bodies, lives, and futures – and no one should be forced to continue a pregnancy against their will. We thank our champions in Congress for introducing legislation in this critical moment that commits to a future where all people, including service members and their loved ones, can better access abortion care in order to live a safe and healthy life.” 

“It’s unconscionable that people serving our country and defending our freedoms are being denied their reproductive freedom. Everyone, regardless of their income, zip code, or occupation, should have access to abortion — including military servicemembers,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “As some politicians continue to dismantle reproductive rights in states across the country, it is critical that Congress support our servicemembers and their ability to access to sexual and reproductive health care no matter where they are stationed. Abortion is health care, plain and simple. We thank the leadership of the Pro-Choice Caucus and the Democratic Women’s Caucus for standing with our servicemembers and advocating for abortion access for all.”

“By ensuring that servicemembers and their families face fewer obstacles to accessing abortion care, this critical bill would help bring us closer to a world where everyone can make their own decisions about their health, lives, and futures. We applaud Rep. Speier for introducing this crucial legislation that will help protect our fundamental freedoms and ensure that everyone has the freedom to decide when, if, and how to start or grow a family, regardless of where they live or their insurance coverage,” said Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is grateful to Representative Speier for her leadership in helping to advance reproductive health equity for women in the military," said Iffath Abbasi Hoskins, MD, FACOG, president of ACOG who served 29 years both the U.S. Navy and the Marines. "People who are serving their country should not face unwarranted barriers when they need abortion care, and the MARCH Act will help ensure that these servicemembers will be able to get the abortions they need where and when they need it." 

“With the potential of Roe v Wade being overturned, expanding access to reproductive care for servicemembers is more important now than ever. Abortion access is part of reproductive health care and service members are long overdue to have access to all reproductive health care, which is why the MARCH Act is so important. We applaud the introduction of this legislation and encourage Congress to do everything in its power to give service members access to all reproductive health care options,” said Marcelle Cedars, MD, ASRM President.

“Abortion is a part of the basic reproductive health care that should be accessible to us all. Our servicemembers and their families should never face the financial and emotional hardship that often comes with being denied access to abortion, whether through their health insurance or by military treatment facilities. Now more than ever we must protect those who protect us, by ensuring members of the military have access to the abortion care they need, when and where they need it,” Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, CEO, Power to Decide.

The MARCH Act is supported by numerous reproductive rights, women’s rights and military service member organizations, including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Women's Law Center, Center for Reproductive Rights, Power to Decide, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Service Women’s Action Network, VoteVets, Physicians for Reproductive Health, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Minority Veterans of America. 

This bill is led in the House by Democratic Women’s Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-21), and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Vice Chairs Congresswomen Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Freshman Representative Sara Jacobs (CA-53), and Whip Nikema Williams (GA-05), as well as Pro-Choice Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Pro-Choice Caucus members Jason Crow (CO-06) and Marilyn Strickland (WA-01). They were joined by 71 of their congressional colleagues.

For full bill text, please click here.