Press Release: Tuberville, SASC Colleagues Ask Pentagon to Justify Claim that SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Will Impact Military Readiness

WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined the Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) calling on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to justify a recent assertion from a top Department of Defense (DoD) official that the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization would significantly affect the “readiness of the Force.”

In a memorandum to the Force dated June 28, 2022, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling that there is no constitutional right to abortion “will have significant implications for…the readiness of the Force,” but provided no evidence to support this conclusion.

The Senators’ letter requests Secretary Austin to describe the “significant implications” on readiness referenced in the memorandum and cite the data used to support Secretary Cisneros’ conclusion, and seeks additional information about the Pentagon’s ongoing review of current policies and procedures related to abortion described in its June 28th memorandum.

Other signers include U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rick Scott (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below. 

July 13, 2022

The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III

U.S. Department of Defense

1300 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1300

Dear Secretary Austin,

We have concerns about assertions made in a memorandum from Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. dated June 28, 2022, and entitled, “Ensuring Access to Essential Women’s Health Care Services for Service Members, Dependents, Beneficiaries, and Department of Defense Civilian Employees.”

This memo asserts that the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization “will have significant implications for our Service members, dependents, other beneficiaries of DoD health care services, and civilian employees, as well as the readiness of the Force.”  There is no evidence presented in this memo to support the conclusion that the Dobbs decision will have “significant implications” for the “readiness of the Force.” Please provide written responses to the following questions:

1.       What are the “significant implications” that the Dobbs decision will have for the “readiness of the Force”? Please be specific.

2.       What data was used to support the conclusion that the Dobbs decision would have “significant implications” for the “readiness of the Force”? Please provide a copy of all data used to support this conclusion in your response.

In addition, the June 28 memo states that current policies and procedures are under review in light of the Dobbs ruling, and that “additional guidance” will be issued “as appropriate.” 

3.       What policies and procedures are currently under review by the Department of Defense following the Dobbs decision? Please be specific.

4.       Do you commit to consulting with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees before issuing any “additional guidance” referenced in the June 28 memo?

We request that you provide the information requested above by July 20, 2022. Thank you in advance for your responsiveness.

                                                                    Sincerely,

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.

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