Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah - who says he opposes abortion in most cases - voted Wednesday to allow abortions on demand in overseas U.S. military facilities.
But Reps. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and Bill Orton, D-Utah, voted against it, saying that was more consistent with their pro-life beliefs.It came during the year's first abortion-related vote on an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, which now goes to the Senate. The amendment - which passed on a close 220-208 vote - would reverse a three-year-old policy not to allow use of military clinics abroad for abortions.
Military facilities in the United States do not perform abortions, but military personnel and their dependents may obtain them from private facilities.
"It was a matter of equity," Owens said. "We just allowed military personnel to pay for legal abortions that they could obtain anywhere else in the country."
Owens said he opposes abortions except in the case of rape or incest or when the health of the mother is threatened - including her mental health.
He said his vote allows military personnel to obtain abortions in those situations - which may not otherwise be available abroad.
But Hansen said he feels the amendment was too broad. "It allows abortion on demand during any trimester. Abortions could be demanded because the parents don't like the sex of the child. I voted against it because I'm against abortion."
Hansen said he opposes abortion except in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is threatened - not just her health.
Orton takes the same stand but adds that abortions in even those cases may not be justified. "People even in those cases should seek counsel, such as from the clergy. It's merely the minimum situation where abortion may be considered."
Orton said he voted against the amendment "because we ought not use federal funds to help fund abortions."