Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) says he will block all civilians and flag officers nominated by the Department of Defense if the department funds abortions for troops. In a memo filed on Oct. 20, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the DOD to provide abortion travel and transportation allowances to service members and their dependents. As a response, Tuberville sent a letter accusing the policy of foul play.
According to the DOD, the overturn of Roe v. Wade resulted in many Service members and their families having to travel more distances, take more time off work and pay more out-of-pocket for reproductive health care. The memo sent by Austin says such effects qualify as unusual, extraordinary, hardship, or emergency circumstances and would interfere with the ability to recruit, retain and maintain high-quality forces. Tuberville refuted the department’s claims in a letter.
🧵BREAKING: we uncovered @SecDef’s plan to fund thousands of abortions a year. Not only is this a severe misuse of taxpayer dollars, it’s illegal. I will hold him accountable. pic.twitter.com/eMdfCf2eMr
— Coach Tommy Tuberville (@SenTuberville) December 9, 2022
Previously, government-funded abortion was limited “to cases of rape, incest, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother.” For years, the department has averaged fewer than 20 abortions a year. The senator pointed out that the DOD memo, ‘Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care,’ suggests that subsidized abortions could increase by 4,100 yearly. This estimate doesn’t include dependents who might need help getting an abortion, who are also covered by the plan.
Tuberville also noted that the plan would allow unrestricted access to abortion, which makes the vast expansion of DOD-subsidized abortions more problematic. As six states and the District of Columbia have no abortion restrictions, the policy would force taxpayers to fund abortions without the protections other states have enacted. This includes waiting periods. “Like me, many Americans find such abortions morally repugnant,” he added.
“It is my conviction that this proposed policy change is illegal, circumvents Congress and exceeds your authority. Should you implement these proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies, I will place a hold on all future DOD civilian and general/flag officer nominations,” he wrote.
In his letter, he said the DOD couldn’t estimate how much its new policy would cost taxpayers. He suggested that a controversial change to department policy is irresponsible without understanding how it will impact the force’s readiness.