Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working on an amendment to the Defense Department’s spending bill to block the Pentagon’s recently announced policy of providing travel funding for troops and their family members seeking abortions, even if they are assigned to states where abortion is now illegal.
Memorandum from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin entitled Guarantee access to reproductive healthcare dated October 20 describes the rights and protections that service members and their dependents will have regardless of where they are stationed.
As CBN News reported, under federal law, the Pentagon health system can only offer abortions in cases of rape or incest or when a mother’s life is in danger. That doesn’t change with the new policy. The funds the military would provide to service members would cover only transportation; they would not pay for abortion services not covered by federal law.
Although the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which includes funding for the US military for next year, passed the House on a bipartisan vote, the new abortion travel policy could make passage of the bill in the Senate problematic.
Austin’s memo was criticized by several Republican lawmakers, including Kansas Sen. Dr. Roger Marshall, who responded in a tweet that he was writing an amendment to the bill to prevent the Department of Defense from using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion trips.
“I cannot believe the Department of Defense is considering inappropriately using taxpayer $$ to fund abortion travel,” Marshall wrote. “I drafted an amendment to the NDAA to end this. With all the challenges we face globally, the Department of Defense must make our national security its highest priority.”
I can’t believe the Department of Defense is considering inappropriately using taxpayer $$ to fund abortion travel. I drafted an amendment to the NDAA to end this. With all the challenges we face globally, the Department of Defense must make our national security its highest priority.
– Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) October 24, 2022
The Kansas senator also called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to “allow a robust amendment process when the Senate returns so we can vote to block this outrageous memo.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, also denounced the Defense Department’s new abortion travel policy last week, calling it a “desperate campaign tactic” ahead of the election half term of November 8 and agreeing to the directive. must be blocked.
“I am deeply disappointed that the Department of Defense has allowed President Biden to blatantly misuse the United States military for political purposes,” Rogers said in a statement. “Yesterday’s memo from the Department of Defense, released nearly two weeks before the election, is a desperate campaign tactic that undermines the core mission of our military.”
“I demand answers from the Department of Defense about how this memo came to be,” the Alabama congressman continued. “Taxpayer dollars intended to deter China and other adversaries should not be wasted on campaign policies. The Department of Defense must be prevented from wasting any part of its budget on this horrible policy.”
Congressional Democrats push for even more abortion coverage
Meanwhile, some Democrats in Congress have praised the DoD’s abortion travel policy and are looking to expand it.
“Service members and their families should have the right to make their own choices about their lives, health and future,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said in a statement. “And servicewomen and prospective recruits should feel that military service remains a viable career option, regardless of where they may be assigned.”
A group of Senate Democrats is pushing to codify the right of military personnel to use convalescent leave to get an abortion, according to Politico. The outlet also noted that some House Democrats also tried unsuccessfully to repeal limits on military medical facilities that performed abortions after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.
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