Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Virginia Kruta.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Thursday that the Defense Department would offer allowances for travel and transportation to service members seeking abortions.
Austin delivered the news via a memorandum addressed to Senior Pentagon Leadership, Commanders of the Combatant Commands, and Defense Agency and DoD Field Activity Directors, and he instructed them to make those allowances available along with additional privacy protections for individual service members.
The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision has "readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for the force,"
Austin's memo began, noting that a number of service members had voiced concern since the Court's decision was handed down.
"We also recognize that recent developments may create legal and financial risk for our health care providers as they carry out their lawful federal duties,"
He then directed the department to allow service members up to 20 weeks to inform their chain of command of a pregnancy - unless their specific jobs presented a hazard necessitating earlier notification - saying that they should have enough time to discuss their reproductive health care choices within their own families before disclosing to their command.
Austin also stated that, per this memorandum, health care providers could not inform service members' commands of their reproductive health status in most instances.
Austin went on to address health care providers as well, directing the department to cover fees associated with obtaining licenses in different states to facilitate being able to perform abortions, if the states where they were previously licensed outlawed the procedure. That provision also included legal assistance for any providers in the DoD system who are subject to adverse action for performing abortions.
Noting that the military is fairly well known for moving service members around the country from one duty station to another, Austin acknowledged that some moves would place service members in areas where they could not easily obtain certain services - namely abortions.
Toward that end, he directed the department to provide for "administrative absence"
(leave time) and "establish travel and transportation allowances for service members and their dependents ... to access non-covered reproductive health care that is unavailable within the local area of a service member's permanent duty station."
Austin concluded with a promise to ensure that service members were educated about all of their available options with regard to reproductive health - and gave a deadline of "no later than the end of this calendar year"
for the new policies to be implemented.