Since the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade in June, some 80,000 female active-duty service personnel are stationed in states that now restrict abortion access. Ahead of November's elections, which will see propositions regarding abortion laws on several state ballots that may further restrict access, the Pentagon said it will provide reimbursement and leave for female military members who travel out of state for abortions.
In an Oct. 20 memo, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin addressed concerns about abortion access for both service members and military health-care providers. Military health insurance and providers follow federal restrictions, preventing them from using federal money to pay for abortions, other than those resulting from incest, rape, or circumstances that threaten the life of the mother. Service members seeking an abortion for any other reason can’t receive care from a military provider. Austin's memo not only announced the Pentagon's decision for service member reimbursement but also detailed plans to reimburse providers who seek licenses in other states to "appropriately perform their official duties."
All changes should be implemented as soon as possible and by no later than year-end, the memo said. The Department of Defense oversees some 1.3 million active-duty service members, primarily in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.