House Votes To Overturn Pentagon Policy Protecting Abortion Access For Troops

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The Republican-led House of Representatives voted in favor of forcing the Pentagon to rescind a rule facilitating abortion access for servicemembers on Thursday.

In a nearly party line vote, the House decided 221 to 213 on an amendment prohibiting the Department of Defense (DOD) from reimbursing servicemembers for travel expenses incurred when seeking abortions and a handful of other reproductive procedures out-of-state, records show. Lawmakers also tackled DOD funding of transgender treatments in a package designed to maintain GOP unity and allow the yearly defense policy bill to move forward on the House floor, The New York Times reported.

“This illegal Biden-endorsed policy has no place in our military,” GOP Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, who sponsored the amendment, said, according to the NYT. “The taxpayer money is going directly to support abortions, and anyone in this chamber that says differently is blatantly lying to the American people.”

Inclusion of the amendments could imperil Democratic support for the final package, where some buy-in is needed to overcome hurdles on policy items where the GOP does not agree, the NYT reported. (RELATED: Jim Banks To Grill Military Academy Heads On Race-Based Admissions)

“The MAGA majority is using our defense bill to get one stop closer to the only thing they really care about: a nationwide abortion ban,” Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, the Democratic whip, said, according to the NYT.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in February DOD would pay 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 following the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision. The court gave states the authority to determine abortion restrictions for themselves, triggering concerns among the Pentagon of tightening abortion laws and their impact on female recruiting and retention.

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.

The House also voted 222 to 211 to prevent the DOD medical plan from paying for sex change surgeries and hormone therapies, according to the NYT.

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