SCOTUS abortion ruling leaves U.S. servicewomen in red states with limited options

Thus far, the Pentagon has not formulated any policy to assist military servicewomen in procuring an abortion if they are stationed in a state that does not permit it

Updated: June 24, 2022 - 7:26pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

In the wake of the Supreme Court's Friday ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson case returning the right to regulate abortion to the states, many American servicewomen stationed in states poised to ban the procedure are weighing their options.

The high court on Friday, issued its ruling overturning both the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion precedent and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling affirming it, ultimately returning the power to regulate abortion access to the states.

With abortion no longer a constitutional right, over two dozen states are poised to ban the practice. Most are Republican-leaning, but some, like Wisconsin, have Democratic governors.

The changing landscape of legal abortion presents issues for American servicewomen stationed in states likely to outlaw the procedure. The Hyde Amendment prevents them from using their government health insurance to pay for an abortion unless the pregnancy is life-threatening or if the child was conceived through rape or incest. Moreover, leave procedures restrict their ability to privately travel to states that allows abortion, Politico highlighted.

Thus far, the Pentagon has not formulated any policy to assist military servicewomen in procuring an abortion if they are stationed in a state that does not permit it. Anonymous sources to Politico, however, that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was leading the effort to draft a policy addressing the issue.

Austin, on Friday afternoon, issued a statement following the court's ruling.

"Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families," he wrote. "I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force. The Department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law."

The Department of Defense has not explicitly stated any options currently under review and it remains unclear what path forward exists due to Hyde Amendment prohibitions on the use of federal funds.