Military says it will cover travel expenses for service members in states with abortion bans, among other support.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he is committed to ensuring ‘service members and their families can access reproductive health care’ [File: Eraldo Peres/AP Photo]

Published On 20 Oct 202220 Oct 2022

The Pentagon has announced new support for service members who seek abortions, including covering travel expenses for those based in parts of the United States where the procedure is now banned.

Thursday’s order (PDF) includes privacy protections meant to shield members of the US military from repercussions related to abortion-related decisions and sets guidelines so that local commanders aren’t allowed to influence whether service members get access to care.


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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the actions would be completed before the end of the year.

“I am committed to the Department taking all appropriate action, within its authority and consistent with applicable federal law, as soon as possible to ensure that our Service members and their families can access reproductive health care and our health care providers can operate effectively,” Austin said in the memorandum.

The order is the most recent step by the federal government to safeguard abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v Wade ruling in June, ending the constitutional right to an abortion in the country.

That decision paved the way for a wave of new abortion restrictions and outright bans in more than a dozen US states.

The Democratic Party has made support for abortion rights a key part of its appeal to voters ahead of midterm elections on November 8, promising to safeguard and restore access to the procedure if Democrats win a sizable majority in Congress.

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This week, President Joe Biden also said he would promote a bill in Congress to codify abortion rights at the federal level if Democrats secure a majority.

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