Attempts to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and military abortion ban fail

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Harry Reid (D-Nevada)
Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Harry Reid (D-Nevada)


The U.S. Senate blocked a controversial military bill on Tuesday afternoon which would have repealed the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy and allowed elective abortions to be carried out on military bases at home and abroad.

In May of this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full U.S. House approved measures to repeal the 1993 policy allowing homosexuals to serve only if they do not reveal their sexual orientation as part of the overarching Defense Authorization Bill of 2011.

However, on Sept. 21, a Republican-led filibuster blocked a vote on repealing the measure, with Democrats failing to garner the 60 votes needed to bring the defense bill up for consideration. According to the Chicago Tribune, the vote was 56-43 in favor of starting debate on the legislation.

Critics of the repeal praised the move on Tuesday, with Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins calling it “a victory for the men and women who serve our nation in uniform.”

“At least for now,” he noted, “they will not be used to advance a radical social agenda.”

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently doesn't realize that if everyone with traditional values leaves the military, virtually no one will be left to defend our country,” Perkins added.

Also of concern to critics of the bill was an amendment that would have provided for elective abortions in U.S. military bases at home and overseas.

Spearheaded by Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who added the amendment to the defense bill in May, the measure would have repealed a ban on abortions being performed at military hospitals. Currently, the Department of Defense is forbidden from performing the procedure except in the cases of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life Action, also issued a statement on Tuesday praising the votes against proceeding with the defense bill.

“We applaud the outstanding leaders in the Senate who led the fight to win today’s key vote rejecting taxpayer-funded abortion in the military,” Yoest wrote. “They stood on principle and scored a major victory for our service members and their families.”

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