Pentagon: Troops That Need To Travel To Get Abortions Will Now Be Funded

Pentagon: Troops That Need To Travel To Get Abortions Will Now Be Funded

According to a new department policy unveiled on Thursday, the Pentagon will give travel funding and support for troops and their families who need abortions but are stationed in locations where they are now prohibited. The military will strengthen privacy safeguards for anyone seeking medical attention.

The Defense Secretary’s directive clarifies the rights and protections that military members and their dependents would enjoy wherever they are stationed, which was a major worry for troops following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in June.

The availability of abortion has emerged as a key issue in the midterm elections. If Democrats have enough seats in Congress to enact it, President Joe Biden indicated this week that the first measure he sends to Capitol Hill the next year would be one that codifies abortion safeguards into law.

 

The Dobbs v. Jackson decision by the Supreme Court eliminated women’s constitutional rights to abortion and gave states the authority to decide whether the practice is permitted in their jurisdictions. Since then, more than a dozen states have outlawed or severely limited abortion.

According to the new military doctrine, local commanders cannot decide whether service members have access to treatment or if they live in an environment where they or their dependents are afraid to report problems for fear of punishment. It builds on the Pentagon’s initial response in June, when it said it would continue to permit medical leave for service members who needed to travel out of state for abortions but noted it needed to carefully consider the court decision and ensuing state laws to determine whether any additional guidance would be required.

By the end of this year, Austin instructed the services to put the new policy into effect.

The Pentagon is also worried that the Dobbs ruling may have an impact on recruiting and retention as service members or prospective recruits assess the possibility of being stationed in areas where abortion is prohibited. Many of the Pentagon’s key military installations are situated in states with anti-abortion legislation, such Texas and Florida.

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The new regulations also extend the time a service member must notify commanders of a pregnancy to 20 weeks and give additional protections to defense healthcare providers who perform abortions. Each military base is also required to publicly list the reproductive health care services available to service members and their dependents.

According to federal law, the Pentagon’s medical system is only permitted to perform abortions in situations involving rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. That is unchanged by the current policy. The military would only pay for transportation for service members; they would not be reimbursed for abortion procedures that are not authorized by federal law.

The body of slain American soldier Vanessa Guillén was discovered outside Fort Hood, Texas, last year. Attorney Natalie Khawam, who represented the family of that soldier, said the policy is an ongoing effort by the Pentagon to address a military culture that has not been supportive of female service members. After Guillén’s passing, the military’s response to sexual harassment and assault underwent significant transformation.

“Whenever you defend a lady, you also protect her family and everyone else in her nexus. You are unquestionably safeguarding the nation while she serves it, Khawam added, adding that it can be her kids, parents, spouse, or siblings.

 

 

 

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