U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) is doubling down on his threats to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and accused him of attempting to “fund thousands of abortions a year.”
On Tuesday, Tuberville informed Austin that he would be blocking all Department of Defense (DoD) nominees until receiving a brief from the DoD clarifying its position on providing abortion services to military service members.
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.”
According to Tuberville, his office received the brief from the DoD on Wednesday, which stated Austin intended to implement the provisions listed in the memo by the year’s end.
According to Tuberville, the current DoD abortion policy limits the practice to cases of rape, incest or pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life. The new guidelines would remove the current restrictions, leading to a significant increase in abortions.
“For years, the department has averaged less than 20 abortions per year,” Tuberville said in a public letter to Austin. “The brief revealed the policy intentions put forth in your 20 October memo, ‘Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care,’ would increase DoD subsidized abortions by as much as 4,100 per year. That estimate does not include dependents, which your policy also intends to cover, who might seek assistance in obtaining an abortion.”
In addition to criticizing the DoD’s lack of estimates on how the policy change would impact its budget, Tubervilleadditionally questioned the moral implications of compelling states that have banned or restricted abortion to subsidize “late-term abortion.”
“This vast expansion of DoD-subsidized abortions is made worse by how your plan will provide unrestricted access to abortion,” Tuberville continued. “As six states and the District of Columbia have no abortion restrictions, your policy would force taxpayers to finance access to abortions without protections other states have duly enacted such as waiting periods and prohibitions on late-term abortions. Like me, many Americans find such abortions morally repugnant.”
Tuberville and others have suggested that the DoD proposals would be illegal, running afoul of the Hyde Amendment of 2013.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits any federal money from being used to fund abortions.
To combat the DoD’s proposed policy change, Tuberville is threatening to put a further hold on all future DoD nominees.
Tuberville serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, responsible for voting on DoD nominees. Nominees require unanimous consent from the committee for confirmation of their positions.
“[I]t is my conviction that this proposed policy change is illegal, circumvents Congress, and exceeds your authority,” Tuberville concluded. “Should you implement these proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies, I will place a hold on all future DoD civilian and general/flag officer nominations.”