Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday vowed to provide service members with “seamless access” to reproductive health care in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
He said in a statement:
Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families. I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force. The Department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law.
Austin’s statement comes after progressive veterans and service members voiced outraged on social media over the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade. They expressed concern that service members would be serving in states that did not allow for abortion. Some claimed that the Supreme Court was coming after gay rights next.
During former President Donald Trump’s administration, Pentagon officials — particularly those who disliked Trump — strived to keep politics away from the Pentagon, arguing that it needed to remain apolitical.
Despite President Joe Biden vowing to never politicize the military, Austin’s statement wades directly into a political issue and arguably constitutes a stance — that the Pentagon will “ensure” that service members have access to reproductive healthcare — a euphemism for abortions.