Washington, DC – As we speak, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, together with U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and 34 of their Senate colleagues urged Division of Protection (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin We give attention to the basic hyperlink between our navy’s readiness and its assurance , that ladies within the armed forces have the chance to obtain reproductive well being care. The senators urged the DoD to contemplate the choice of abortion in main personnel and justification hearings.
After the Supreme Court docket’s overturning choice Roe v. Wade, 40 p.c of ladies on lively responsibility have restricted or no entry to reproductive care the place they work. Because the U.S. navy faces probably the most important recruitment challenges it has confronted in fifty years, the senators urge the DoD of their letter to look at how entry to reproductive well being care adversely impacts navy recruitment, retention and readiness. Presently, the Pentagon doesn’t think about entry to reproductive care in its institution and personnel choices.
“Simply because the founding standards weigh numerous situations, comparable to native academic assets and price of residing, so too ought to the Division think about finding new services and missions in states that may adversely have an effect on the reproductive rights of these working there.” wrote the senators of their letter.
“Girls, who make up about 17 p.c of the active-duty navy, haven’t any say in the place they’re stationed, even when their office is in a state that limits or severely limits entry to abortion or different essential reproductive well being providers.” continued the senators “Our service members shouldn’t be compelled to needlessly threat their very own well being and security for routine well being care simply because they pledged to guard and defend our nation.”
The senators conclude by reaffirming their dedication to completely implement DoD’s reproductive care coverage and to fiercely defend the well being and freedom of service members and their households.
Earlier this month, Bennet spoke on the ground of the Senate to induce the DoD to contemplate entry to reproductive care in key institution and personnel choices, together with the place to completely find the US House Command.
Along with Bennet, Shaheen, Hirono and Hickenlooper, the letter was additionally signed by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Sick.), Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bernie Sanders (D-Wis. I-Vt. .), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Sick.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz. .) , Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D -Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (DN.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash. ), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.), Cory Booker (DN.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Angus King (Del. I-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Martin Heinrich (DN.M.).
The textual content of the letter will be discovered HERE and under.
Expensive Secretary Austin:
We’re writing to precise our robust help for the personnel insurance policies issued by the Division of Protection on February 16, 2023, that are constant along with your directive of October 20, 2022, to make sure that service members and their households can obtain mandatory reproductive well being care, together with entry to abortion and fertility remedy. Presently, 13 states have a whole ban on abortion, and different states are transferring to severely prohibit entry to abortion providers. Given the restricted entry to abortion take care of service members following the Supreme Court docket’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Girls’s Well being Group, we’re inspired by your new journey and transportation insurance policies and administrative go away insurance policies that help reproductive well being care, together with abortion. , and we encourage you to contemplate the provision of such care when contemplating the distinctive vulnerabilities that service members face throughout deployments, navy recruitment and retention efforts, and choices concerning the formation of the U.S. navy. Moreover, a pending federal lawsuit that threatens the Meals and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of many two medication mostly utilized in medical abortion, makes it crucial that the Division of Protection proceed to behave to guard service members and their rights. households to entry abortion care.
After the Dobbs choice, the RAND Company estimated that 40 p.c of working ladies within the continental United States have restricted or no entry to abortion providers the place they’re. When service members are assigned to responsibility both at house or overseas, their placement is decided by the wants of the U.S. navy. Feminine conscripts, who make up about 17 p.c of the active-duty navy, haven’t any say in the place they’re stationed, even when their responsibility station is in a state that limits or severely limits entry to abortion or different essential reproductive well being providers. It’s unacceptable that service members or their dependents have restricted or no entry to abortion care merely due to the place they’re stationed in america.
State legal guidelines that restrict or deny our service members entry to reproductive care ship a message that america doesn’t belief these in uniform — whom we depend on to guard our nation — to make their very own choices about well being care and households. These legal guidelines additionally jeopardize the well being and general readiness of our navy. Earlier than the Dobbs choice, most service members sought abortion care via civilian clinics at their very own expense as a result of abortion care was prohibited underneath TRICARE and in navy services besides underneath sure circumstances. Within the aftermath of the choice, state legal guidelines that additional restrict the proper of service members to make their very own well being care choices don’t stop service members from needing or in search of care. Abortion restrictions and bans solely pressure service members to journey farther to nations that haven’t restricted abortion, additional undermining each the financial safety and navy readiness of service members. Our service members shouldn’t be compelled to needlessly threat their very own well being and security for routine well being care simply because they pledged to guard and defend our nation.
Dobbs’ choice additionally hurts our navy’s recruiting and retention efforts. Many be a part of the navy in pursuit of economic safety and a profitable profession, with the promise that the Division of Protection will defend their well being and well-being. Final 12 months, nevertheless, the division warned that the U.S. navy was dealing with its most important recruiting challenges in additional than 50 years. The recruiting challenges we face are associated to our incapability to retain these already serving in uniform, depriving us of the following technology of senior leaders in uniform and leaving us in need of the personnel we have to meet our nation’s nationwide safety wants. Recruitment and retention will solely develop into tougher as states proceed to ban or restrict abortion providers, sending the message that the autonomy and talent of sure service members to get the well being care they want don’t matter, and inserting extra obstacles and pointless burdens on service members and their households.
The Division of Protection must also think about the provision and accessibility of well being care, together with abortion and reproductive care, when making foundational choices and quickly develop frameworks for main institution and personnel choices that deal with state and native legal guidelines limiting entry to reproductive well being care. . Simply because the founding standards weigh numerous situations, comparable to native academic assets and price of residing, so too ought to the ministry think about the implications of finding new services and missions in states that may adversely have an effect on the reproductive rights of those that work there. The division should additionally think about the quite a few obstacles service members nonetheless face in acquiring abortion care underneath the brand new coverage, together with stigma and discrimination, out-of-pocket prices, delayed wait instances, and variability in abortion entry between states as legislatures. Adjusting abortion bans.
We’re dedicated to making sure full implementation of the ability’s reproductive care coverage and can proceed to defend the freedoms of our service members and their households and their proper to make their very own well being care choices. We recognize your continued consideration to those issues and thanks for standing up for the rights that serve our nation.