Senator Al Franken (D-MN) may have only been in the Senate for a short time, but he’s been using that time to advance women’s reproductive rights in really great ways. In October we wrote about his amendment to the appropriations bill that barred the Defense Department from contracting with companies who forced their employees to resolve sexual harassment or assault allegations in arbitration.
Now he, along with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), is working on improving access to emergency contraception for women serving in the U.S. military:
Sens. Al Franken and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have sponsored a bipartisan bill that would require military medical facilities to include emergency contraceptives among medications available to servicewomen.
A statement from mid-December at Franken’s web site says current Department of Defense policy allows military hospitals and clinics to carry the contraceptive, also known as the “morning-after pill,” but it’s not required — which means servicewomen don’t have the same access to it as the general public.
“All servicewomen should have the same access to this medication as civilians do,” Franken said. “The fact that more than 2,900 sexual assaults were reported last year in the military—a nine percent increase—only heightens the need to ensure emergency contraception is always available.”
It is ridiculous that EC is not required to be in stock at all military medical facilities, and this bill, the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act, would help women defending the United States throughout the world reduce the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. Many thanks to the senators who are co-sponsoring the bill, and to Sens. Franken and Snowe for introducing it.
And once it’s passed, maybe Senator Franken could start working on reversing the ban on providing abortion in military hospitals? Currently, military hospitals can only provide abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. And if the abortion is needed as a result of rape or incest, the woman has to pay for it with her own funds. This is a policy that desperately needs to end.