In a historic bipartisan vote on Tuesday, the Senate passed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act that would extend abortion insurance coverage to victims of rape in the military. If the House of Representatives decides to include the measure in its version of the defense bill, military servicewomen who have become pregnant from rape will no longer have to pay out of pocket for an abortion procedure for the first time since 1981.
Army veteran Ayana Harrell, 34, has been closely watching the progress of the amendment. Harrell says she was drugged and gang-raped in February 2001 by a group of soldiers and Marines at the Redstone Arsenal base in Huntsville, Ala. It took her three months to drum up the courage to report the rape, she says, because she had been trained to believe that soldiers are not allowed to feel or behave like victims. By the time Harrell told her senior drill sergeant what had happened, she had discovered that she was pregnant from the assault.
“The only thing he said to me was, ‘This is your thing. I don’t want to hear it. You need to deal with it however you’re gonna deal with it. Go off post and get an abortion,’” Harrell told The Huffington Post in an interview.
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a recently enacted law’s provision that authorizes indefinite military detention for those deemed to have “substantially supported” al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.”
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan ruled in favor of a group of civilian activists and journalists who said they feared being detained under a section of the law, which was signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in December 2011.
“In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more,” the judge said.
She added that it was in the public interest to reconsider the law so that “ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention.”
By issuing a preliminary injunction, the judge prevents the U.S. government from enforcing section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, which represents the government in this case, declined to comment on the ruling.
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