Senate Democrats urge Pentagon to safeguard abortion entry

Nearly all of Senate Democrats on Monday pressed Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin to take care of entry to abortion care for service members and their dependents, warning that limiting such care might harm nationwide safety.  

In a letter led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a senior member of the Armed Companies Committee, the 38 lawmakers inform Austin that “it’s crucial that the Division of Protection proceed to take motion to guard the rights of service members and their households to entry abortion care.” 

“State legal guidelines limiting or prohibiting our service members from accessing reproductive care ship a message that the USA doesn’t belief those that serve in uniform – whom we belief to guard our nation – to make their very own selections about their well being care and households,” the letter reads. “These legal guidelines additionally jeopardize the well being and general readiness of our navy.” 

The letter was coauthored with Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and signed by 36 Democrats in addition to Unbiased Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Angus King (Maine). 

Within the wake of the Supreme Courtroom’s resolution to overturn Roe v. Wade final June, 13 states have outlawed most abortions, with a number of others severely limiting the process.   

The RAND Company estimates that 40 p.c of active-duty ladies who serve in the USA face restricted or no entry to abortion providers the place they’re stationed, in response to the letter. 

Previous to the court docket’s resolution, the Division of Protection allowed abortion providers at navy remedy services below restricted circumstances, together with being pregnant attributable to rape or incest or endangering the well being and lifetime of the lady. In most different instances, service members have been required to pay out of pocket themselves at civilian medical services. 

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Pentagon officers have vowed to proceed to permit abortion providers at navy remedy services, together with in states the place the process is not allowed or restricted.  

Austin first introduced in October that the Pentagon would additionally present depart to service members and their dependents for journey required to entry reproductive well being care and would reimburse people for the trek.  

Insurance policies launched in February gave further particulars and steering on how the directives would perform. 

In his October resolution, Austin argued that limiting entry to reproductive care “will intervene with our skill to recruit, retain, and keep the readiness of a extremely certified power.” 

Senate Republicans, nevertheless, are skeptical, with 12 asking Austin for the info to again up his readiness claims. 

Led by Senate Armed Companies Committee rating member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the lawmakers in a letter earlier this month accused the Pentagon of a “blatant try to bypass quite a few federal statutes” and insurance policies that “can solely be interpreted as a purely political motion taken with out consulting Congress.” 

The divide has additionally led to a maintain on President Biden’s nominations for high Pentagon positions since February, with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) final week vowing to take care of the freeze till the coverage is altered. 

And in a contentious Senate Armed Companies Committee listening to final week, Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) included abortion entry within the navy as amongst so-called “social experiments” and “radical agendas,” on the Pentagon.  

In Monday’s letter, Senate Democrats argue that state legal guidelines limiting abortions won’t cease service members from needing or searching for care.  

“Abortion restrictions and bans solely power service members to journey farther to states that haven’t restricted abortion, additional compromising each the monetary safety of the service members and navy readiness,” they write. “Our service members shouldn’t be compelled to needlessly danger their private well being and security for routine well being care just because they pledged to guard and defend our nation.” 

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