In response to the Defense Department’s “radical” new policy to provide transportation and paid leave for service members seeking abortions, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama announced he will put a hold on civilian and military nominees for the department that are brought before the Senate.
In a statement on February 17, Tuberville claimed that “the Secretary of Defense is carrying out his extreme plan to facilitate thousands of abortions a year with taxpayer cash.” Thus, I will carry out my plan to bring before the U.S. Senate every nomination for a civilian, flag, or general officer in the Department of Defense (DOD).
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The contentious new policy, which is expected to go into effect within the next month, will allow service members who wish to either personally undergo an abortion or accompany a spouse or other dependent to the surgery up to 21 days of paid vacation.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the creation of the policy, which also includes travel and transportation expenses for those who cannot receive such treatments locally.
The senator replied, “As I’ve maintained, Secretary Austin should go via Congress if he wants to modify the legislation. “I will hold him responsible for this unlawful expansion of DOD authority and egregious waste of taxpayer funds. The American people want a military that is devoted to protecting the country, not furthering a liberal political agenda.
The Senate typically confirms the great majority of the president’s appointees without difficulty—a procedure that is frequently sped up with the aid of unanimous consent. But a full Senate vote would be necessary if even one senator objected.
Tuberville has the authority to put the nominations of six Defense Department nominees on hold at the moment.
Tuberville informed the defense secretary in a letter (pdf) that if the “illegal” alterations were made, he intended to stall department nominations.
Austin had contended that the Supreme Court’s decision on June 24 that abortion is not a constitutionally protected right had adversely influenced the U.S. military when giving the mandate to develop the policy.
In the memo dated Oct. 20, he claimed that the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by the Supreme Court had an effect on access to reproductive health care and had implications for the Force’s readiness, recruiting, and retention. He noted that some service members had voiced concerns about their ability to access abortion services in the future.
However, Tuberville attacked Austin’s suggestion that easier access to abortion services would increase the readiness of US troops during his speech on the Senate floor on Monday.
For many, many years, the department has performed less than 20 abortions year on average. only 20 on average,” he claimed. Does this sound like a threat to our military readiness—potentially banning fewer than 20 procedures annually? There isn’t.
The senator continued, “This isn’t about preparation, it’s about politics. In the end, American taxpayers will be footing the tab.”
Pro-life organizations have also voiced anger with the policy. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, called it a “extreme assault on the unborn.”
She said in a statement on February 16 that “the Biden-Harris administration has turned to flagrant illegality to force abortion without any boundaries right up to birth, paid for by taxpayers, in all 50 states.”
She continued, thanking Tuberville for his plans, “Our nation is at its best when safeguarding the lives and rights of the most innocent and defenseless.”