The decisions might affect any defense budget bills, especially if the Republicans take control of the House.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the Pentagon would pay for service members’ travel to get abortions.
Austin wants to protect “reproductive health care.”
The media buried another part. The Pentagon would also help Defense health care providers escape states that have strict abortion laws “in order to support the performance of official duties.”
Austin justified these decisions because SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade and some states have passed laws or enacted old laws that restrict abortions.
“We also recognize that recent developments may create legal and financial risk for our health care providers as they carry out their lawful federal duties,” said Austin. “I am committed to the Department taking all appropriate action, within its authority and consistent with applicable federal law, as soon as possible to ensure that our Service members and their families can access reproductive health care and our health care providers can operate effectively.”
The Hyde Amendment bans the government from paying for abortions except when the mother’s life is in trouble, rape, or incest. It says nothing about travel.
Austin wrote regarding service members who want abortions:
- Create uniform Department of Defense policy that allows for appropriate administrative absence consistent with applicable federal law for non-covered reproductive health care.
- Establish travel and transportation allowances for Service members and their dependents, as appropriate and consistent with applicable federal law and operational requirements, and as necessary amend any applicable travel regulations, to facilitate official travel to access non-covered reproductive health care that is unavailable within the local area of a Service member’s permanent duty station.
For those Defense health providers who perform abortions:
- Develop a program to reimburse applicable fees, as appropriate and consistent with applicable federal law, for Department of Defense health care providers who wish to become licensed in a different state than that in which they are currently licensed in order to support the performance of official duties.
- Develop a program to support Department of Defense health care providers who are subject to adverse action, including civil or criminal penalties or loss of license or reprimand, for appropriately performing their official duties, to include the indemnification of any verdict, judgment, or monetary award consistent with applicable law.
Austin assured Americans that if he did not protect “reproductive health care,” it would “interfere with our ability to recruit, retain, and maintain the readiness of a highly qualified force.”
So if the Defense Department cannot guarantee service members have access to abortion, our military will suffer.
But will these changes affect any defense budget and policy bills, especially if Republicans take control of the House?
Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, the House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, reminded the Defense Department that taxpayer money is for defense purposes. From Roll Call:
Rogers and other Republicans will have to sign off on the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (HR 7900) later this year, and the GOP hand may be strengthened in the next Congress when the fiscal 2024 NDAA is written. Appropriators may also weigh in on the abortion issue when they write their defense spending bills.
“Taxpayer dollars meant for deterring China and other adversaries should not be squandered on campaign politics,” Rogers said. “DoD must be blocked from wasting any portion of their budget on this horrendous policy.”
Rogers said he is “deeply disappointed that the Department of Defense has allowed President Biden to blatantly misuse the United States Military for political purposes.” Austin’s memo, he said, “released nearly two weeks before the election, is a desperate campaign tactic that undermines the core mission of our military.”
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.