Senate Democrats say abortion entry for service members helps nationwide safety

A gaggle of roughly 75% of Senate Democrats have praised the Division of Protection’s new reproductive healthcare insurance policies whereas urging it to do extra.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Companies Committee, led a brand new letter on Monday to Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin. She was joined by 34 of her Democratic colleagues and two independents who caucus with the get together. They argued that Austin’s efforts to make sure service members and spouses have entry to abortion should proceed attributable to what they described as vital nationwide safety implications within the wake of the Supreme Courtroom’s reversal of Roe v. Wade final yr.


In mid-February, Austin directed a number of coverage adjustments, which included permitting girls within the service to have their journey bills paid and obtain as much as three weeks of go away to acquire an out-of-state abortion. The up to date steering comes after a couple of dozen Republican-led states handed legal guidelines to roll again abortion entry within the wake of the court docket’s ruling.

The group of Democrats stated they have been “inspired” by the up to date rules, whereas their Republican colleagues rapidly denounced it.

“We’re inspired by your new journey and transportation, and administrative go away insurance policies in help of reproductive well being care, together with abortion, and we urge you to contemplate the supply of such care when contemplating the distinctive vulnerabilities service members face in deployments, navy recruitment and retention efforts and U.S. navy basing choices,” the Senate Democrats stated. “State legal guidelines proscribing or prohibiting our service members from accessing reproductive care ship a message that the US doesn’t belief those that serve in uniform — whom we belief to guard our nation — to make their very own choices about their well being care and households.”

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Roughly 40% of feminine U.S. service members have restricted entry to abortion providers the place they reside or are stationed because the Supreme Courtroom’s ruling, based on a Rand research revealed in September 2022. Roughly 80,000 feminine service members serve in states which have carried out or will quickly implement further abortion restrictions.

“Ladies service members, who make up roughly 17% of lively responsibility navy, haven’t any say in the place they’re stationed, even when their responsibility station is in a state that severely limits or restricts entry to abortion or different crucial reproductive well being providers,” the letter continued. “It’s unacceptable that service members or their dependents ought to face restricted or no entry to abortion care merely due to the place they’re stationed as a part of their service to the US.”

The group cited the navy’s recruitment woes which have plagued the providers, which have largely occurred attributable to a number of causes starting from the results of the pandemic, corresponding to stopping recruiters from going to excessive faculties for outreach, to a decreased proportion of Individuals assembly the navy’s {qualifications}. The Senate Democrats additionally urged the Pentagon to contemplate abortion entry in future basing choices.

“Recruiting and retention will solely be made tougher as states proceed to ban or limit entry to abortion providers, sending a message that sure service members’ autonomy and skill to get the well being care they want doesn’t matter, and placing into place further obstacles and undue burdens for service members and their households,” they wrote. “The Division of Protection also needs to contemplate the supply and accessibility of well being care, together with abortion and reproductive care, when making basing choices, and swiftly develop a framework for main basing and personnel choices that accounts for state and native legal guidelines proscribing entry to reproductive well being care.”

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The difficulty of how the Pentagon ought to reply to the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Ladies’s Well being Group has been debated for months, with each events sticking to their aspect on abortion.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been stymieing nominations and promotions on the division in protest of its coverage for footing the invoice for abortion journey. To date, he has stopped greater than 150 DOD nominations and has proven no indicators of backing down.

In October, roughly 40 Home Republicans wrote to Austin calling on him to rescind the division’s coverage of paying for service members’ journey to acquire an abortion, calling it “an unprecedented politicization of our Armed Forces” and describing that to be “a trademark of the Biden Administration from the beginning.”

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