Pentagon Announces New Benefit For US Service Members

The Pentagon will now pay travel costs for armed services members who need to undergo an abortion but cannot due to prohibitive laws in the state they reside.

By Crystal Murdock | Published

Roe vs. Wade was a historical decision that began in 1971 and was finally ruled in favor of when the Constitution of the United States conferred the right to have an abortion in 1973. The ruling outweighed many federal and state abortion laws that were currently in place and kicked off an ongoing debate as to what extent abortion should be legal. Based on differences in moral and religious perspectives Roe vs. Wade was eventually overturned in June of this year. 

This court ruling has now made abortion illegal in thirteen states and the news directly from NPR is that numerous other states are on federal and state holds from completing any procedures. This means for those women that have a need to have the procedure done due to factors of incest, rape, or medical emergencies will have to travel in order to receive the necessary medical abortion if their state has made it illegal. Which means adding travel costs to an already stressful situation.

However, the Pentagon is now stating it will pay the travel costs for service members who require the medical procedure and are not able to have it done where they reside due to the overturn of Roe vs. Wade having effective made abortions illegal in their state. A spokesman from the Pentagon made a statement to reporters on Thursday, “The practical effect of the recent changes is that the service members may be forced to travel greater distances, take more time off work and pay more out-of-pocket expenses to access reproductive health care, all of which have readiness, recruiting and retention implications for America’s armed forces.” 

abortion travel costs

There is already a federal policy in place, known as the Hyde Amendment which strictly prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion assistance, such as travel expenses, except for in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk. Between the years 2016 and 2021 there have been a total of ninety-one reported abortions performed at U.S. military hospitals. Based on that data from Congress, all service members are now required to have any medically needed abortions performed in civilian hospitals. 

The largest of the U.S. military bases are located in states where abortion is now banned, including Fort Hood located in Texas, and Fort Campbell which outlines the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and houses, well over, ten thousand service members. Other policy changes were made to extend the timeframe in which a service member is to report a pregnancy up to twenty weeks. The department’s health partners are given direction to not disclose any reproductive health details to commanders unless there is a risk of harm to a mission. 

The memo from the Pentagon has also stated along with reimbursement to service members for travel expenses, it will reimburse fees for providers who complete the necessary steps to become licensed in other states to complete these official medical duties on behalf of the Department of Defense, as well as will receive legal backing and support for any charges that are brought upon them for completion of these official duties.