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Rep. Rogers demands answers on DoD abortion memo; calls it political ‘campaign tactic’

President Joe Biden holds a meeting with military and civilian defense leadership, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commanders, and the Coast Guard, the White House, Washington, D.C., April 20, 2022. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)
October 24, 2022

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the lead Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, has accused the Pentagon of engaging in partisan politics after it announced the military would pay for travel expenses for service members to get abortions.

In a Friday press statement, Rogers called the Pentagon memo “a desperate campaign tactic that undermines the core mission of our military.” Rogers raised further questions about how Austin reached this new Pentagon policy to cover travel costs for abortions for service members.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released the memo just over two weeks before the Nov. 8, 2022 U.S. midterm elections. In the memo, Austin directs the Department of Defense to:

Establish travel and transportation allowances for Service members and their dependents, as appropriate and consistent with applicable federal law and operational requirements, and as necessary amend any applicable travel regulations, to facilitate official travel to access non-covered reproductive health care that is unavailable within the local area of a Service member’s permanent duty station.

The travel allowance would essentially have the DoD underwrite travel costs for servicemembers living in states with limited access to abortions to go to states where such access is more readily available.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case earlier this year, allowing states to set any rules on abortion not covered by federal law. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, some states have limited abortions to within certain points in the gestational process or in cases of rape, incest and medical risk for the mother. Other states impose no limits on abortion, effectively allowing the practice up until the moment pregnant female would otherwise give birth.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Department of Defense has allowed President Biden to blatantly misuse the United States Military for political purposes,” Rogers wrote on Friday. “Yesterday’s memo from DoD, released nearly two weeks before the election, is a desperate campaign tactic that undermines the core mission of our military.”
“I demand answers from the Department of Defense on how this memo came to be,” Rogers continued. “Taxpayer dollars meant for deterring China and other adversaries should not be squandered on campaign politics. DoD must be blocked from wasting any portion of their budget on this horrendous policy.”

Rogers office has not responded to American Military News requests for comment.

A provision in federal law known as the Hyde Amendment does prohibit the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in cases to save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.