Kirby Says Free Travel For Abortions Are Critical To Recruiting Women Soldiers

[Screenshot/White House press briefing]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that covering expenses for abortions are critical to recruiting women into the military as a Republican senator continues to block Department of Defense (DOD) nominees.

Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville is blocking the process of promoting nearly 160 military commanders to vital positions around the world over the DOD’s abortion policy. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared in February that the department would provide funding and leave for military personnel to travel out of state state for an abortion.

Kirby said female military personnel should be assured the military will treat them with “dignity and respect” by being provided with the “reproductive healthcare they need.” (RELATED: Despite Trumpeting ‘Threat’ To National Security, White House Refuses To Call Senator Holding Up DOD Confirmations)

“Our policies, whether they’re diversity, inclusion and equity; or whether they’re about transgender individuals who qualify physically and mentally to serve and be able to do it with dignity; or whether it’s about female service members — one in five — or female family members being able to count on the kinds of healthcare, reproductive care specifically, that they need to serve. That is a foundational and sacred obligation of military leaders across the river.”

He said he met with some female personnel and their spouses who allegedly told him abortion laws are impacting their ability to serve, since they could be stationed to a red state with more restrictive abortion laws. Kirby argued that without the DOD policy, the military would lose “important talent.”

“What happens if you get assigned to a state like Alabama, which has a pretty restrictive abortion law in place, and you’re concerned about your reproductive care? What do you do? Do you say no, and get out? Well, some people might decide to do that, and what does that mean? That means we lose talent. Important talent,” Kirby said. (RELATED: KJP Says Republican Senator Blocking Biden Nominees Is A ‘Threat To Our National Security’)

“We want to keep the people that we get, we want to make sure that they can continue to serve,” he continued. “So it can have an extremely, extremely significant impact on our recruiting and our retention. Not to mention, it’s just the right darn thing to do for people that raise their hand and agree to serve in the military.”

President Joe Biden and Tuberville have yet to communicate as of Monday, despite the administration referring to the blockade as a “threat to our national security.” The president has called Tuberville’s actions “totally irresponsible” and added that “mainstream” Republicans likely do not support what the Alabama senator is doing.

Tuberville previously said his blocking the process is “unfortunate,” but that he will protect against “taxpayer-funded abortions.”

“I hate to have to do this. It’s unfortunate. But we make the laws over here. The DoD doesn’t. This is not about abortion. It’s about taxpayer-funded abortions,” Tuberville told Punchbowl News. “If this was about a list of personnel, people actually doing the fighting, this might be different. … If this had to do with winning a war, obviously I wouldn’t be doing this.”


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Kirby was referring to free travel and paid time off for abortions, not free abortions themselves.