Get Ready for the Next Great Human Rights Crusade

A mere day after the forces of light and progress ensured that no American can be deprived of his or her God-given right to kill foreigners, a new crisis of conscience emerged. A Chicago Sun-Times editorial from Sept. 21 has the details:

Give military women equal abortion rights

Every woman who gets health insurance though the federal government faces a ban on coverage for abortion. We don’t support this policy, but the government at least allows for a few crucial and humane exceptions. For nearly every group, abortion is covered in the case of rape or incest.

But one maddening and profoundly unfair outlier exists: the U.S. Department of Defense.

If a U.S. servicewomen is raped — a shockingly frequent occurrence — she not only must navigate a sometimes sexist military culture as she attempts to get care and justice, she also must pay for the abortion herself.

And because some overseas military bases don’t provide abortions, this can include a costly flight home to find a doctor who will provide an abortion.

So, before we go any further, this is most emphatically not about the right to an abortion.* It’s about who should pay for certain abortions, which is a topic for another site. What I’m interested in is the “shockingly frequent” rape that’s going on in our most trusted institution. Let’s read on:

Servicewomen have lacked a rape exception since 1981, with a brief respite under President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, the number of assaults against women have skyrocketed. In 2010, nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military, a number that studies show represents just a fraction of total assaults. …

One young woman we spoke to, Jessica Kenyon, says she got no support and was ostracized after saying she was raped and sexually assaulted.

Kenyon strongly supports the rape exception but worries women will continue to be left to fend for themselves.

“There is so much torture when you report an assault,” Kenyon told us. “What will women have to do to prove they were raped?”

Given the context — and everything we’ve learned since Abu Ghraib — is there any reason to believe that she’s using the word “torture” in a strictly figurative sense? Do these rapists hold themselves to a higher standard than the Army Field Manual?

That seems unlikely. So what we have here is an organization speckled with rapists and sadists who are so depraved that they can’t even keep their hands (and other parts) off their comrades — yet this doesn’t raise any broader concerns for the Sun-Times. For instance, the editorial makes no mention whatsoever of all the women and girls (and men and boys) who didn’t volunteer to join the U.S. military but who are subjected to its “bad apples” all the same. Who will pay for their abortions (or funerals)? Who cares? Bigger evils must be confronted. Gay soldiers are being booed!

*Rest assured, gentle reader, that when it comes to abortion, you and I are on the same page. I believe wholeheartedly in whatever slogans you believe in, so there’s no need to post them in comments.