‘Do the right thing’: Senators demand secretary of defense rescind abortion travel policy

This week, a group of 27 senators published a letter to Austin writing that, with the issuance of the policy, Austin has “broken your promise to the American people not to politicize the military, and your actions have harmed and threaten to further harm institutional norms within our democracy.”

Congress “never authorized the department to expend funds to facilitate abortions,” the letter stated, “and, until the policy was issued, the military never facilitated abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term.”

“Now taxpayers — many of whom have deeply-held religious and moral objections to abortions — are on the hook to facilitate the very abortions they fundamentally oppose,” the senators wrote.

The letter criticized Austin for his allegation that the repeal of Roe v. Wade created “readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for the force.”

“By your own officials’ admissions, however, the department has no data to support that claim, and few service members or dependents have utilized the policy,” they wrote.

The undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, they wrote, has confirmed that the Department of Defense “does not have any data on women being deterred from joining the military for fear of being stationed at an installation or base in a state or nation that has restrictive abortion laws.”

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