Military will continue some abortions in states that ban practice, Pentagon says

Military will continue some abortions in states that ban practice, Pentagon says

Limited abortions will continue at U.S. military facilities even in states that ban the practice, Pentagon leaders said in a memo Tuesday.

The Defense Department’s new policy guidance comes as the military grapples with the potential fallout from last week’s Supreme Court decision reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established a national right to abortion. That decision is expected to lead to near-total abortion bans in states across the country, but military officials said that the Defense Department will continue providing abortion services in limited cases to military personnel regardless of state law.

“Federal law restricts the department from performing abortions or paying to have them performed unless the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest,” Gilbert Cisneros, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in the Tuesday memo.

“The Supreme Court’s decision does not prohibit the department from continuing to perform covered abortions, consistent with federal law,” he said. “There will be no interruption to this care. Health care providers will continue to follow existing departmental policy, and the leadership of military medical treatment facilities will implement measures to ensure continued access to care.”

Mr. Cisneros also seemed to suggest that the Pentagon is fully prepared for a legal fight with states that seek to crack down on abortions on military facilities within their borders.

“It is the Department of Justice’s longstanding position that states generally may not impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who perform their duties in a manner authorized by federal law,” he wrote. “We will work with the Department of Justice to ensure access to counsel for such civilian employees and service members if needed and as appropriate.”

The Pentagon performed 91 abortions at its treatment facilities from 2016 to 2021, USA Today reported Tuesday, citing internal Defense Department figures obtained by the news outlet.

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