Pentagon Seeks to Reassure Service Members on Access to Abortion
WASHINGTON—The Pentagon is reviewing access to abortion for service members who have received an overseas combat service medal in order to assess how it performs in the war-making environment, as well as what its effects are on a soldier’s “core values” and military culture.
The Department of Defense announced Thursday that it will be conducting the review of policies for “reconciling” service members with their family members who have expressed opposition to abortion, including members of the armed forces.
The Pentagon said it wanted to ensure the service members are not faced with a “major dilemma” in having to choose between their convictions and their families’ wishes. But the review also could help the service members deal with the consequences of their decision; for example, losing their unit and facing court-martial for disobeying the commander’s orders.
The Pentagon said it wants to “reassure service members” who have received the overseas combat service medal that they may take their actions “regardless of how the individual’s own personal convictions may differ.”
The review comes as the Pentagon is considering expanding the definition of service members who can legally purchase and use contraceptives to include all members of the armed forces, regardless of what they are doing overseas.
The Pentagon also recently announced that a federal court will decide April 22 whether active-duty service members can be forced to join an army that sponsors abortion for their families in other states. The Pentagon is defending the ruling as a constitutional issue, but the Supreme Court has ruled that the “affront” to the U.S. Constitution is a justifiable use of military discipline.
Under the current military service rules, service members who take their families’ positions on abortion are held to the same standards of military discipline as those who believe in abortion.
The Pentagon review comes as several current and former service members are preparing to fight against the ruling. In a hearing Wednesday, three service members of the US Navy are challenging the court’s decision to enforce the law in court.
The men are challenging