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Christian Medical Association: Over 200 Military Physicians Protest Amendment to Use Military Facilities for Abortions

Contact: Margie Shealy, Christian Medical Association, 423-844-1047, margie.shealy@cmda.org

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 /Christian Newswire/ -- Over 200 physicians who have served U.S. soldiers have signed a letter to U.S. senators protesting a Senate bill amendment that would use U.S. military medical facilities as abortion clinics. The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association organized the letter and today sent it to the senators urging them to vote no on a National Defense Authorization Act amendment by Sen. Roland Burris that would remove restrictions on performing abortions in military facilities.

CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, who received the Gorgas Award for distinguished service in the American military, said, "If enacted, requiring military physicians to perform abortions threatens military readiness. Morale will suffer among those already serving. Morale is a key component of military effectiveness. Furthermore, just as we have seen a marked decrease in young doctors entering OB/Gyn training for fear of being forced to do abortions, this requirement will discourage young doctors from joining the military."

"In addition to facilitating further destruction of unborn life, the provision will place military physicians with life-honoring convictions in the unenviable position of either disobeying orders, abandoning their conscience, or seeking objector status."

Current law in effect since 1996 prohibits the performance of abortion by Department of Defense (DoD) medical personnel or in DoD medical facilities (except when the life of the mother is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest). A separate provision prohibits the use of DoD funds for abortion except to save the life of the mother. In 2006, the House rejected by a vote of 191-237 an amendment similar to the Burris amendment. The Burris amendment, which would allow abortion on both domestic and overseas military bases, is even more expansive than the rejected 2006 amendment. The letter from military physicians urges senators to "vote NO on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 (DoD) (S.3280) because it contains Sen. Roland Burris' amendment to strike Section 1093(b) of Title 10 of the US Code."

CMA Director of Global Health Outreach Col. Donald Thompson, MD, who recently retired from the Air Force, said, "This provision would put conscientious military medics on the losing side of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in key areas crucial to good order and discipline in the military. Chain of command, avoidance of fraternization and carrying out lawful orders are key to an effective combat force, yet this provision would require military physicians, nurses and support staff to leave their ethical convictions at the door when they join the military. When a senior officer in the chain of command 'thinks that this should be done,' then that is the same as a direct order to the subordinate. Favors and perks go to those who 'feel' the same as the boss.

"Our military exists to fight our nation's wars, not to be a ideological playground. If this provision stays in the NDAA, it will drive out of the military those who are most likely to serve their nation by going in harm's way."