‘Abortion Travel Agency’: Pentagon Will Pay For Travel To Other States For ‘Reproductive Health Care’

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The Department of Defense (DOD) will pay for troops to travel to states that allow abortions and obtain so-called “reproductive health care” at non-military facilities, according to a new policy released Thursday evening.

The landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision gave states the authority to determine localized abortion policies. The Hyde amendment bars DOD from administering abortions at military medical facilities, the new policy carves out provisions for expanded leave times and set-aside funding for servicemembers stationed in states that restrict abortions to cross state boundaries to obtain the procedure.

“Our Service members and their families do not control where they are stationed, and due to the nature of military service, are frequently required to travel or move to meet operational requirements,” a DOD press release states. The DOD’s efforts will ensure pregnant servicemembers are “afforded time and flexibility to make private health care decisions” and access private abortion providers regardless of where they are stationed.

When the Dobbs ruling came down, DOD lacked procedures for allowing female service members to have abortions if they are stationed in one of the states that bans or tightly restricts the practice. (RELATED: ‘Simply Ignore’: Military Expert Sounds Alarm On Pentagon’s Abortion Stance)

Federal law only permits women to seek abortions at military facilities in case of rape, incest, or life-threatening pregnancies, according to a fact sheet issued by the Navy. The military health plan can only cover abortions sought in private abortion centers for the same reasons, leaving women to pay for elective abortions, according to the fact sheet.

“Today, the Biden administration chose to make the Department of Defense an abortion travel agency over a lethal fighting force,” Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. “As I have repeatedly told the political leaders of this administration, taking this action jeopardizes congressional authorizations for our warfighters.”

Waltz said the move demonstrated the Biden administration’s effort to “placate” the left, which has advocated for nearly unlimited access to abortion.

Now, military members can request up to 21 days of leave to travel to other states for abortions, either for themselves or a spouse or dependents, according to the policy dated Feb. 16.

Commanders are instructed to approve the absence when a need is identified by the service member unless “the Service member’s absence would impair proper execution of the military mission,” the memo states.

It also prohibits commanders from mandating the servicemember complete consultations with a chaplain, medical testing or counseling.

“Delay in granting an administrative absence” should not contribute to a pregnant member’s inability to obtain abortion, the memo states.

“Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in June.

An October memo pledged to protect “seamless access” to abortion, citing the potential impact of the landmark Supreme Court ruling on troop readiness.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had expressed concern about military “readiness and resilience” in a statement.

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