WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) delivered remarks on the Senate floor about the Pentagon’s illegal taxpayer-funding of abortion.
Read excerpts from the speech below or watch here.
“Last November, I got word from the Pentagon that they were planning on replacing a forty-year law that was passed in this building about abortion in our military that has worked perfectly for forty years, with no complaints. But our President in his wisdom decided to change that abortion policy with a memo. So, because of that, I warned the Pentagon: don’t do this. Send us new policy through the Senate. Let’s vote on it. […] Let’s represent the people back home that send us up here. They elected us to do that, to make decisions for them, to represent them.
“I said in writing, that if they impose this new policy, that I would put a hold on senior nominations in the military. That’s the only power that we have in the minority to get the attention of the majority here in the Senate. I hated to do it. These people needed promotions. But somebody needs to wake up in the White House and the Pentagon that they cannot dictate policy here in the U.S. Senate. Send it over. Let’s vote on it.
“So, I put a hold eleven months ago on the admirals and generals and civilian nominees…Somebody had to stand up to what was going on. So, I did it. I stood up knowing that I’m one hundred percent military. My dad was in the military. I was a military brat. I believe in our military. It’s the number one institution in our country because if we don’t have peace and security for the American citizens, we are in trouble.
“Secretary Austin knew that I would hold these nominations. He knew it, but he decided to go ahead and do it anyway. It was his choice. The current leadership of the Pentagon seems to think the taxpayer-funded abortion is more important than military nominations.
“This was a policy we had for forty years that was about rape, incest, and harm to the mom. And it worked for forty years, but they decided to change that. Because they thought they could without the consent of the Senate. Since then, there has been absolutely no negotiation from my Democratic colleagues or the Biden Administration. I’ve had a brief phone call a couple of times with the Secretary of Defense. No negotiations at all. You would think if they were really concerned about our military in a trying time we have all over the world, which they have created, that they would have called me. Let’s talk about this. Let’s work it out. We need promotions. Zero. Zero communications. I’ve been willing to negotiate the entire time. So, instead Democrats have spent eleven months attacking me for trying to get them to do the right thing and to stand up for our military. No. They didn’t want any of that. They wanted their way or the highway.
“Unfortunately, last month, even some of my Republican colleagues attacked me, and attacked me personally, here on this floor…There’s nobody, again, that supports the military more than me. But they are currently in the military and they were standing up for their colleagues, which is fine. But I can stand and we all can stand for life of the unborn and for our military. You can do both.
“Unfortunately, Democrats don’t wanna do that. They do not like the unborn. And they don’t care anything about the military or they would have done something about this. Everybody said, well, these men and women need promotions. Well, these young unborn will never have a chance for a promotion because they wanna kill them before they’re born.”
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June 2022, the Department of Defense claimed in a memorandum that the ruling would “have significant implications for…the readiness of the Force,” but provided no evidence to support this conclusion. On July 15, 2022, Senator Tuberville and Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) sent a letter calling on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to justify the assertion. The letter went unanswered.
On October 20, 2022, Secretary Austin released another memorandum entitled “Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care.” The memo outlined the Department of Defense’s intent to develop policy, procedures, and programs to expand taxpayer-subsided abortion in the military beyond what is currently allowed under federal law.
On November 28, 2022, Senator Tuberville and his Republican SASC colleagues sent an additional letter to Secretary Austin asking him to explain the October memo and the Department of Defense’s justification for the potential expansion of its abortion policy. In the letter, the senators warned, “The Department’s actions send the implicit message to our service members that pregnancy is a liability to the force and our military’s success hinges on access to abortion. This is an egregious mistake.” Again, the letter went unanswered.
The Department of Defense finally scheduled a briefing for Senate offices on November 17, 2022, about the Department’s memorandums and potential policy changes. However, the briefing was abruptly canceled. In response, on December 5, 2022, Senator Tuberville placed a hold on DoD nominations until the Pentagon rescheduled the canceled 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 7, 2022. During the rescheduled briefing for members of Senator Tuberville’s staff, Department of Defense officials revealed their intent to announce a new policy that would cover travel and leave for service members and their dependents seeking abortions. Following the briefing, on December 9, 2022, Senator Tuberville notified Secretary Austin that he would place an additional hold on Department of Defense nominees if the Department implemented its abortion plan, which Senator Tuberville believes is illegal.
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 spouses and dependents. Given this provision, the Department of Defense has averaged fewer than 20 abortions per year, with 91 abortions at military facilities occurring between 2016 and 2021. According to a third-party study cited by officials, the number of abortions subsidized by the Department of Defense under the new policy could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed in recent years.
Without responding to Senator Tuberville’s pledge, Secretary Austin released another memorandum on February 16, 2023, announcing the formal implementation of the abortion policy to fund travel and paid time off for service members and their dependents seeking an abortion, despite existing law.
On February 16, 2023, Senator Tuberville followed through with his pledge to hold all general officer, flag officer, and civilian nominations on the Senate floor.
On July 28, 2023, Senator Tuberville sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting more information about how the illegal policy is being used. As of September 20, 2023, he has not heard back.
On December 5, 2023, following threats from Senator Schumer to change Senate rules, Coach Tuberville narrowed the holds to 4-star generals, releasing the other nominees for promotion. Coach Tuberville will continue fighting against the policy and to defend the taxpayer and the unborn.
Contrary to false claims by Democrats, Senator Tuberville’s hold is not unprecedented. The tactic has been threatened and used by senators from both parties for decades.
Senator Tuberville’s efforts have received strong support from conservative leaders, including former Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Ron Desantis, Governor Doug Burgum, Dr. Ben Carson; Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote.org; Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council; Kevin Roberts, President of The Heritage Foundation; Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life Action; Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action for America; Brent Bozell, Founder and President of Media Research Center; Morton Blackwell, Chairman of Conservative Leadership PAC; Penny Nance, President of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee; Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life; Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., President of The Ethics and Public Policy Center; Ken Blackwell, Chairman of Conservative Action Project; Mike Berry, Vice President of External Affairs of First Liberty; Star Parker, Founder and President of Center for Urban Renewal and Education; Paul Teller, Executive Director of Advancing American Freedom; David Bozell, President of For America; Elaine Donnelly, President of Center for Military Readiness; Kelly Shackelford, President/CEO of First Liberty Institute, and Tom Fitton, President of Judicial Watch, among many others.
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.