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Tipsheet

As Pentagon Frets About Holding Up Nominees, We Must Warn About Woke Abortion Policy

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has found himself in the news for standing up for pro-life values and the rule of law when it comes to opposing the Biden administration's policy for service members to receive paid time off for abortion. To the ire of Democrats, the senator has held up defense nominees and has also spoken out at great length to condemn what he says is an "illegal" policy, and he's not alone.

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As a refresher, the policy made news last October, when Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the Pentagon would act "as soon as possible to ensure that Service members and their families can access reproductive health care and health care providers can operate effectively." 

Such fancy language is in fact referring to abortions. Not only will service members and family members receive paid time off for abortions, but they'll be reimbursed if they need to travel to another state. The Hyde Amendment, which is still federal law despite how the Biden administration would like nothing more than see it end, is clear that tax dollars can only be used for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother. So while taxpayers won't be paying for the abortion itself, they will be covering paid time off and travel. 

The official policies were announced last month, as Spencer highlighted at the time. When it comes to travel, a release from the DoD had this to say:

Travel and transportation allowances may be authorized for Service members and dependents to travel to access non-covered reproductive health care. Travel and transportation allowances may be authorized when access to non-covered reproductive health care services is not available within the local area of the member’s permanent duty station, temporary duty location, or the last location the dependent was transported on Government orders. The non-covered reproductive health care is at the Service member’s expense.

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The next paragraph is even more telling, though, with added emphasis, in the way abortion is described:

Our Service members and their families do not control where they are stationed, and due to the nature of military service, are frequently required to travel or move to meet operational requirements.  The efforts taken by the Department today will not only ensure that Service members and their families are afforded time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, but will also ensure Service members are able to access non-covered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed.

Such a preoccupation of expanding abortion, including and especially when it comes to priorities for the military, has greatly concerned Republicans. Sen. Tuberville has reached out to the department for months inquiring about and expressing concerns on the policy. 

From the Senate floor on March 8, Tuberville revealed that "other than a couple of calls to my staff to ask whether I was serious, the DoD leadership has yet to call me directly and justify this action. In fact, they have not explained this decision to Congress, despite multiple letters--more than a dozen--from my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee." Such was the day that Tuberville followed through on his promise to hold up defense nominees.

Tuberville has not shied away from referring to the policy as "illegal." The senator's office has explained that the relevant law in question, and the department's authority when it comes to abortions, refers to 10 U.S.C. 1093. This dictates that abortion can only be funded in those limited cases of rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother. It also applies to service members' spouses and dependents. 

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Under such provisions, the DoD has averaged fewer than 20 abortions, with only 91 abortions performed at military facilities between 2016 and 2021. However, under the department's new policy, the amount of abortions could increase to 4,100, which is 205 times the number performed in recent years, as Tuberville's office has warned about in press releases

Not only has Tuberville not heard back from Austin, but the secretary had the gall to pick Tuesday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing as the time and place to be more forthcoming, after giving Republicans the slip. The administration has had something of a bad habit in this regard. 

As reporting from The Hill highlighted, the secretary warned "there are a number of things happening globally that indicate that we could be in a contest on any one given day," and that "not approving the recommendations for promotions actually creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be."

Austin also told the committee that we are facing "one of the most complex times" and that approving nominees is "absolutely critical in terms of the impact on the force." If that's truly the case, then surely the military had better get its priories in line rather than focus on abortion, pronouns, and promoting critical race theory. Further, Democrats remain in control of the Senate, and those nominees can be confirmed if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) brings a vote to the floor. 

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Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), who also serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee seemed to approve of Tuberville's when speaking with The Hill. "I think he’s right in his concern for what the department is doing because we have never agreed to fund abortions in the past, and on this particular case, it’s a pretty fine line when you’re funding to get them someplace to get an abortion," Rounds said. "I think it’s a worthwhile fight on his part."

Concerns with a woke military has also been a larger issue, as highlighted by Republicans in both chambers. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) released a report on "Woke Warfighters," as Spencer highlighted last November. 

In a statement for Townhall, Rep. Roy, who called the abortion policy a "flagrantly political decision" when it comes to creating "an abortion travel slush fund," also expanded on concerns with wokeness. "The Pentagon's job is to develop our men and women in the Armed Forces into a united, lethal, and battle-ready force to defeat our enemies and defend our interests. It is not supposed to be a woke social engineering experiment wrapped in a uniform. We need to refocus our military on what it's supposed to do, which is blow things up and kill people." Suggesting that his chamber take action, Roy added that "Our military is not a political pawn for the left’s social agenda. House Republicans have the power of the purse and we should use it."

It's not as if Republicans don't see the importance of confirming nominees. Standing by pro-life values and the law remains crucial, though. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who chairs and founded the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, told Townhall that the "Pentagon’s policy using taxpayer dollars to pay for the travel expenses for service members seeking an abortion is wrong and illegal and should be reversed" and that "I hope the administration is working closely with Senator Tuberville to resolve this issue."

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Sen. Rubio, who has been vocal on this issue, also spoke with Townhall. "President Biden is doing everything possible to preserve the practice of murdering unborn Americans, including using our military as an abortion travel agency. We cannot allow these crazy, left-wing priorities to erode our military," he warned. "The world is an increasingly dangerous place and America’s security requires a strong military capable of deterring--and if need be, defending--our nation."

And, while The Hill tried to point to divisions among Republicans on Tuberville's move, he does have support from colleagues. 

"The Biden Administration is exploiting the United States military to pursue their radical abortion agenda. Republicans must hold the line. At a time when our military is struggling to fill its ranks and replenish weapons stockpiles, our national security resources and American tax dollars should not be used to pay for service members and their dependents to travel to get abortions," Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) told Townhall. "Senator Tuberville is standing up for what is right, and I am proud to support him in his efforts against this illegal policy."

Such senators have also previously spoken to Townhall previously when it comes to concerns about the Biden administration not only being so focused on this issue that will not actually help with military readiness and recruitment concerns, but also Veterans Affairs getting involved in abortions, and how it handles low-income women traveling for abortions. 

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Leader Schumer has called out Tuberville, and, as previously highlighted, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has smeared and spread falsehoods about the precedence of holding up nominees, while also falsely conflating abortion and military preparedness. 

Further, not only has Bennet maligned pro-life values, the Colorado delegation has held up permanently moving the U.S. Space Command to Huntsville, Alabama. 

Tuberville's response to such claims has been to those low abortion numbers in recent years from the DoD. 

The Biden administration's aim to radically expand abortion to virtually all aspects of American life, may be tough to get through to, but if there's clear and consistent action, something may actually get done this time. 

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