Military

U.S. Military Will Pay for Troops to Travel for Abortions

By Jennifer Hlad, Defense One

The Pentagon will begin paying for troops and their family members to travel for abortions, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in a memo outlining several policy changes and directives designed to ensure the military community retains access to reproductive healthcare following the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v. Wade.  

The changes include or call for new guidance and protections for service members, commanders, and healthcare providers that Pentagon officials said would follow federal law.

The move is a response to the court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, commonly called the Dobbs decision, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said. The June ruling removed federal protections that had kept several states from banning abortion and other reproductive healthcare services.

“The practical effect of the recent changes is that service members may be forced to drive greater distances, take more time off work, and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for America’s armed forces,” Ryder said, noting that troops and military families travel and move frequently, and “such moves should not limit their access to reproductive health care.”

Though the details of the travel allowance and leave accommodations have not been finalized, defense officials said they anticipate that they also would apply to troops and families stationed overseas.

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