Behind Closed Doors: The Truth About The Pentagon's Secretive Abortion Policy

By Maria Angelino | Monday, 08 April 2024 08:30 AM
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The Pentagon recently disclosed that the Biden administration's policy to cover travel expenses for military personnel seeking abortions was utilized a mere 12 times in six months.

This low uptake, according to one expert, indicates a rejection of the policy by the military.

The policy was introduced in October 2022, following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the Pentagon would cover the travel costs for service members and their dependents seeking abortions, using taxpayer funds, when timely access to such services was not available near their permanent duty station.

Connor Semelsberger, the government relations manager for The Heritage Foundation, explained to Fox News Digital that prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Department of Defense (DOD) had adhered to a federal law from the 1980s. This law prohibited government agencies from funding or performing elective abortions, although exceptions were made in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother's life was at risk.

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"However, with the fall of Roe in 2022, the Biden administration adopted a whole government approach to promote and fund abortions in any way possible," Semelsberger said. "They argued that while the law states they can't perform the abortions, they would pay for them."

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The Defense Department officials admitted that they only began tracking travel under the year-old policy in August, and were unable to gather any data from March through July. Furthermore, it remains unclear what the 12 trips were actually for, as the policy also covers other fertility-related health services besides abortion.

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Deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh clarified that the policy being used 12 times does not necessarily mean it was used by 12 different individuals. It could have been used multiple times by the same individual.

Semelsberger pointed out that the policy covers other reproductive procedures like IVF or other fertility treatments. "IVF could take 2 or 3 different trips, so this could be only a handful of people, not even 12 different people using this," he said.

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The 12 reported instances in which service members or dependents were granted additional paid leave to travel out of state for "reproductive health services" cost taxpayers around $44,000 - $45,000, according to the DOD.

"If you take that $44,000, you average it out across the 12 trips, that comes to about $3,700 per time," Semelsberger said. "That's a lot of money, right? So again, that's not even the abortion, that's covering the flights and all this stuff."

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Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, criticized the policy in a statement to Fox News Digital, calling it a "reckless politicization of the military." He added, "The Department even admitted today that those that use the policy may not have even used it for an abortion. The reality is that access to abortions is not a threat to readiness."

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At the time the rule was enacted, Austin argued that the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent banning of abortion in some states would impact the "readiness" of service members and their families in those states.

"These policies ensure that service members and their families are afforded the time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, as well as supporting access to noncovered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed," Singh also said.

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However, Semelsberger argued that despite the DOD's financial incentives, data shows that women are often choosing not to have an abortion.

"The Biden admin was willing to stake their whole claim on this, that it's legal and it's necessary for the troops and military readiness, and yet, they can't even say 12 people took advantage of it," he said.

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Semelsberger believes the low numbers reflect the sentiment that Americans, and specifically service members, do not want taxpayer funding used for abortions. Instead, they would prefer to see their military pay for service members to have families and paid time off to take care of their children.

"To be family friendly, which the military has over the years been, both in terms of how much they promote marriage and the benefits of service members that are married, this just kind of starts to unwind that by pushing abortion," he said. "I think the culture is sending a shockwave and maybe that will happen at the ballot box this year, in terms of how they feel about these policies."

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