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Rep. DeLauro says budget negotiations will prioritize abortion access for the military

Rosa Delauro
Manuel Balce Ceneta

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said abortion access for military service members is a priority for budget negotiations currently underway in the House of Representatives.

DeLauro, chair of the appropriations committee, said the Supreme Court decision that struck down Roe v. Wade will harm military service members who need abortions but who are stationed in states where abortion care is not available. She said that could harm military recruitment and retention, so Democrats on the appropriations committee have passed a budget provision that would require commanders to allow troops to travel out of state for abortion care.

"They're being held hostage to their geography," DeLauro said. "It's unconscionable that these are women who serve our country. They put their lives on the line to defend this nation."

She said active duty service members are 40% more likely than civilians to have unintended pregnancies.

The federal government provides abortion care to Defense Department employees and service members only for cases of rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother. Current Defense Department policy allows service members to travel as necessary to receive abortion care. The budget provision would bar commanders from denying leave for troops who ask to leave the state for abortion care.

The budget still has to pass the full House.

In the Senate, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, urging him to clarify regulations that govern abortion access for service members.

"We owe it to these service members to look after them and ensure they have the ability to continue accessing safe reproductive health care no matter where their military service sends them," the senators wrote.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.