Republican lawmakers are expressing their outrage with the military’s newest policy that allows service members to request time off to receive reproductive health care without loss of pay.
These new healthcare policies come as part of DOD’s “Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care” memorandum that was released last October after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade.
A Defense Department spokesperson told Newsweek that this policy “not only ensures that Service members and their families are afforded time and flexibility to make personal and private health care decisions” but also “ensures Service members are able to access care regardless of where they are stationed.”
Upon approval from their commanders, service members may be granted up to 21 days leave to access non-covered reproductive health care or to accompany a dual-military spouse or a dependent to access care. Service members will not be charged leave and travel and transportation expenses may also be covered by the military.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks to his supporters during an election-night party on November 8, 2022, in Miami, Florida. Republican lawmakers express their outrage with the Defense Department’s newest abortion policy.
Such reproductive health care includes abortion, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg retrieval. This policy now extends to non-covered abortions, which are elective procedures in which the life of the mother is not endangered nor is the pregnancy a result of rape or incest.
While the Pentagon hopes these changes will afford more flexibility to service members to make health care decisions, many Republican lawmakers are accusing the military of pushing a “woke agenda.”
Representative Mike Roger, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said the military is not meant to “advance the woke, Socialist Biden agenda” or to “pay for abortion on demand.”
Our brave military is here to protect our freedom and our nation. It is not meant to advance the woke, Socialist Biden agenda, and it is certainly not meant to pay for abortion on demand. Joe Biden is a disgrace to our nation. https://t.co/VXAyMrm76L
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogersAL) February 17, 2023
“Today, the Biden administration chose to make the Department of Defense an abortion travel agency over a lethal fighting force,” he said in a statement. “I am extremely disappointed the Biden administration chose once again to use our military to placate the radical left.”
Missouri Senator Eric Schmitt decried the “politicization” of the military, calling taxpayer dollars for abortions, woke consultants and climate alarmism “profoundly dangerous.”
Taxpayer dollars for abortions, woke consultants, climate alarmism — the politicization of our military is profoundly dangerous.
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) February 17, 2023
Others expressed outrage at the Defense Department’s apparent disregard for human life.
“The President is now paying for abortion travel,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio tweeted. “Destroying innocent life doesn’t help women or strengthen our military.”
Utah Senator Mike Lee said the new policy indicates that DOD does not want its service members to have children.
“When the Pentagon pays for your travel and gives you three weeks of paid leave to have an abortion, could women serving in the military reasonably hear the message as ‘we really don’t want any of you to get pregnant, and if you do, we really, REALLY want you to have an abortion?'” he said in a tweet.
He said the military’s message “comes across loud and suffocatingly clear” that they “frown” on service members’ decision to have a baby.
My concerns with this policy aren’t just about abortion itself; they’re about what signal this sends to military families—and especially military women—who choose to have children rather than prevent or abort them. That signal is not an encouraging one.
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) February 17, 2023
Representative Chip Roy of Texas responded to the new policy by suggesting changes to DOD funding.
“We have a choice—und a woke DoD or demand change,” he said in a tweet. “We must demand change.”
Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has decided to take action to protest this policy by announcing that he will place a hold on President Joe Biden’s military and civilian DOD nominations before the Senate.
“The Secretary of Defense is following through with his radical plan to facilitate thousands of abortions a year with taxpayer dollars,” Tuberville said in a statement to Newsweek.
He called this expansion of DOD authority a “gross misuse of taxpayer dollars” and promised to hold the administration accountable.
“The American people want a military focused on national defense, not facilitating a progressive political agenda,” Tuberville added.
Pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America slammed the Biden administration’s “outright lawlessness” in enacting policies to protect abortion.
“We thank Senator Tuberville and all our allies working to expose and stop the Biden-Harris administration’s extreme assault on the unborn, the will of the people and every noble institution we have,” SBA Pro-Life America told Newsweek in a statement.
In October, the DOD said in a statement, “The efforts taken by the Department today will not only ensure that Service members and their families are afforded time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, but will also ensure Service members are able to access non-covered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed.”
“This policy reflects our continued commitment to taking care of our people and ensuring that the entire Force remains ready and resilient,” it added.
Democrats are celebrating the new policy.
California Congresswoman Sara Jacobs said that even though our service members volunteered to serve, “they didn’t volunteer to give up their reproductive rights.”
“I’m glad to see DoD take this critical step forward, but we still have more work to do to cover the actual costs of all reproductive care,” she said in a tweet.
Back in September, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said 40 percent of women servicemembers have severely limited or no access to abortion services and called on DOD to ensure women in the military have reproductive health care.
Vote Vets, a progressive organization focused on veteran advocacy, condemned Tuberville’s threat to hold nominees over DOD’s abortion policies last December.
It is a disgrace that Sen. Tuberville is holding our national security hostage just because DOD is protecting the rights of our troops. As much as he and his extreme MAGA Republican colleagues may want one, there’s no national abortion ban, yet. https://t.co/sLdSi4V5a1