U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) is continuing his pushback against a proposed Department of Defense (DoD) policy to use military funding to help servicemembers procure abortions.
In October, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sent a memo decrying the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The memo directed DoD officials to "ensure that service members and their families can access reproductive health care and to support Department of Defense health care providers concerned about potential risks while providing federally authorized care."
When the DoD canceled a scheduled briefing on the policy, Tuberville informed Austin that he would use his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee to block all DoD nominations until he received more information about the policy.
In a Wednesday press call, Tuberville said his team had been briefed on the DoD's plans, which were intended to go into effect over the holidays "while no one was looking."
"The military is planning to break federal law and potentially subsidize abortion on demand by paying for time off, travel and related expenses for servicemembers and their family members seeking abortion," Tuberville said.
According to Tuberville, the DoD's suggested policies are illegal in that they would permit federal funding of abortions not currently approved by federal law.
Federal law only allows military-provided abortions in cases of rape, incest and risks to the mother's life. Additional funding could well run afoul of the Hyde Amendment of 2013, which prohibits any federal money from being used to fund abortions.
"To be clear, this new policy is unrestricted," Tuberville continued. "Taxpayer-funded abortion is against the law. If Secretary Austin wants to change the law, he has to go through Congress. The only reason we learned these things is because we forced the DoD to come to the table and explain themselves.
"[O]fficials told us the military provided less than 20 abortions per year on average. However, under the proposed change, a third-party group determined that the number would balloon past 4,000 for service members alone."
Tuberville further claimed that the DoD was attempting to subvert Congress by silently implementing the new rules by the year's end without congressional approval.
"They were planning to ignore members of Congress and drop this new policy over the holidays while no one was looking; typical," he concluded. "This is unacceptable and exactly what's wrong with Washington [D.C.]. Congress should make the laws, and not unelected members of the executive branch."
If the DoD attempts to implement the proposed policies, Tuberville has threatened, once again, to withhold the confirmation of DoD appointees. Austin has yet to make any public comment on Tuberville's ultimatum.
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