Hardly Anyone Used Pentagon Abortion Policy Biden Admin Fought GOP Senator Over For Months

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:

Service members took advantage of the Pentagon’s covered abortion travel policy 12 times during the second half of 2023, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The policy, which came into effect in early 2023 to counteract anticipated restrictions on abortion access as states began to restrict the procedure further, cost the Department of Defense (DOD) about $44,791 over the six months from June to December, Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said Tuesday. It sparked a furor among pro-life Republicans who argued that the Pentagon was trying to skirt state laws and federal legislation that prevents the administration from paying for abortions, pulling the Pentagon into partisan political issues.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced service members and dependents would be able to claim reimbursements for travel expenses while traveling out of state to receive certain forms of assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, as well as abortions, in October 2022. (RELATED: Defense Spending Bill Cuts Diversity Programs, But Leaves Out Provisions Blocking Trans Procedures, Abortion Funding)

The policy went into effect the following February. An accompanying directive authorized commanders to give those service members extra leave time.

“These policies ensure that service members and their families are afforded the time and flexibility to make private healthcare decisions, as well as supporting access to non-covered reproductive healthcare, regardless of where they are stationed,” Singh explained.

The statistics record the number of times the policy was utilized, not how many members of the military used it, leaving open the possibility one female soldier, sailor, airman or Marine could have taken advantage of the policies more than one time, Singh said. The funds covered lodging, transportation and meals during the leave period.

“For example, this could entail a service member traveling from their home station in one state or overseas location to a state where they can access non-covered reproductive healthcare services, and then returning home to that home station. Of note, a service member can use the policy more than once,” Singh said.

The Pentagon did not track the exact number of individuals or which types of reproductive procedures were sought due to privacy reasons, Singh said. Information on utilization of the policy before June was not available because the military services did not have a way to track usage before then.

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 giving states the power to regulate abortion, many state legislatures passed stronger restrictions or outright bans on abortion.

The Pentagon argued abortion bans could unfairly burden women in the military, making it harder for them to do their jobs and damage military readiness.

Republican Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville blocked officer confirmations at the highest ranks for nearly nine months in protest of the travel policy, relenting in December.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact