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Date: December 18 2012

NEW YORK – Congressional committees have included the Shaheen Amendment, which provides for health care coverage of abortions in cases of rape and incest for women in the military and military family members, in the final Defense bill today. The bill must still pass votes by the House and Senate and signing by the President before it becomes law.
This is the first time that this provision has been included in the final Defense bill. 

“We’re thrilled that Congress has taken this huge step to ensure that the women who serve in the armed forces us have access to the same health care options as those they serve,” said Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director of Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and a former Marine Corps Captain. “This is about equality and fairness – and women in uniform deserve the same health care coverage all other federal employees receive. The passage of the Shaheen amendment is both urgent, and long overdue.”

The amendment was offered by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and adopted in a bipartisan vote by the Senate Armed Services Committee in May. Last week Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State, joined dozens of military leaders in signing a letter urging congressional support for the amendment.
The coalition advocating for the provision also included a women veterans’ organization – SWAN – for the first time.

“It’s critical that policy affecting the lives of women in the military be guided by the input of active duty women and women veterans,” said Bhagwati. “SWAN and our community were happy to be an active player in the coalition that advocated for this amendment, and we are looking forward to continuing to bring the voices of women in the military to the table – front and center – when their lives are at stake.”

For more information, please visit

SWAN is a national nonpartisan civil rights organization founded and led by women veterans. SWAN’s mission is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without discrimination, harassment or assault; and to reform veterans’ services to ensure high quality health care and benefits for women veterans and their families. You can follow Service Women’s Action Network on Twitter at, or on Facebook at

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