“Secretary Austin’s new abortion policy is immoral and arguably illegal. If he wants to change the law, he needs to go through Congress.”
“The military wasting time and resources to coordinate abortion trips hurts readiness, not the Senate using regular order to vote on nominees.”
“Americans want a military focused on a national defense — and that’s what I’m fighting for.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today followed through with his pledge to hold all U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) general and flag officer nominations before the U.S. Senate over the department’s new policy of funding travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an abortion. Senator Tuberville took to the Senate floor to object to a motion to approve a batch of DoD nominations by unanimous consent, instead requiring the Senate to approve the nominees by regular order.
Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below, and his complete remarks can be found here.
“I’m holding DoD nominations because the Secretary of Defense is trying to push through a massive expansion of taxpayer-subsidized abortions — without going through this body. Without going through Congress. Three months ago, I informed Secretary Austin that if he tried to turn the DoD into an abortion travel agency, I would place a hold on all civilian, flag, and general officer nominees. 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.”
“Secretary Austin’s new abortion policy is immoral and arguably illegal. If he wants to change the law, he needs to go through Congress. The DoD refused to answer questions or justify this policy for months last year. When they finally answered our questions after another nominee hold, the policy was exposed for what it really is: nothing but a political charade to appease the left. These holds have no real impact on military readiness or operations. The military wasting time and resources to coordinate abortion trips hurts readiness, not the Senate using regular order to vote on nominees.”
“If my colleague cared about military readiness, maybe we’d go after more of the ridiculous policies that have led to our lowest — our lowest — recruitment numbers in decades. But my hold does send a message that the secretary is not — and I repeat, not — above the law. And he cannot ignore lawmakers who are demanding his organization abide by law. I object, and will continue to object to any nominees as long as this illegal new abortion policy is in place. I’m holding the military accountable, others are holding our national security hostage by forcing their agenda where it doesn’t belong. Americans want a military focused on a national defense — and that’s what I’m fighting for. For these reasons, I object.”
On February 16, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) formally announced its new policy to fund travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an abortion. Senator Tuberville sent repeated letters and warned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about the serious repercussions of this new policy after Secretary Austin’s announcement of intent in a memo on October 20th, 2022 — all of which went ignored.
On December 5th, 2022, Senator Tuberville placed a hold on DoD nominations until the DoD rescheduled the cancelled briefing and responded to questions about the military’s memos on reproductive care. Within 24 hours, the DoD rescheduled the staff briefing, and it occurred on December 7th.
During the rescheduled briefing for members of Senator Tuberville’s staff, the department revealed its intent to announce a new policy by the end of the year that would cover travel and leave for service members and their dependents seeking abortions.
The department’s authority to fund abortions is governed by 10 U.S.C. 1093, which limits abortions to cases of rape, incest, or pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother. These rules apply to both service members and their dependents. Given this provision, the DoD has averaged less than 20 abortions per year, with 91 abortions at DoD facilities occurring between 2016–2021. According to a third-party study, under the new policy, the number of abortions subsidized by taxpayers through the DoD could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed last year.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.