The main U.S. military bases, such Fort Hood in Texas and others, are spread across states with restrictive abortion laws. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez hide caption
switch to caption Anthony Gutierrez / AP The main U.S. military bases, such Fort Hood in Texas and others, are spread across states with restrictive abortion laws.
Anthony Gutierrez / AP As many states have restricted access to the operation since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Pentagon will pay for service members to travel for abortion care.
In reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to terminate the federal right to an abortion in June, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the department to establish a number of reproductive health care measures.
According to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, “The practical effect of the recent changes is that service members may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off work, and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have implications for readiness, recruiting, and retention for America’s armed forces.”
Since June, 13 states have made all or the majority of abortions illegal. Several other states’ bans have been temporarily put on hold by court order.
The Hyde Amendment, a federal regulation, already forbids the use of federal funds for abortions, with the exception of situations involving rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. (According to a report to Congress titled earlier this year , 91 abortions were carried out between 2016 and 2021 at U.S. military hospitals.)
As a result, the majority of service personnel who want an abortion must go to a facility for civilians.
However, a number of the greatest military bases in the United States are situated in states where abortion is now prohibited. These bases include Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Campbell, which sits on the Kentucky-Tennessee border and is home to tens of thousands of service members.
The statement from Austin aims to address issues with reproductive privacy and access in different ways. A further modification to the regulation is the 20-week deadline for service members to notify pregnancies. The department’s medical staff is instructed to withhold information about reproductive health from commanders unless there is a risk to the mission.
Additionally, the memo advocates on behalf of medical professionals who work for the Department of Defense. Along with giving legal and other help to providers who face civil or criminal penalties for “appropriately performing their official duties,” the Pentagon will reimburse fees for providers who seek to get licenses in other jurisdictions in order to carry out their official obligations.
The memo specifies that all of the actions must be finished by the end of 2022 at the latest.