Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is potentially blocking 160 Pentagon nominees in protest to the Pentagon's directive giving service members access to abortion.
According to The Hill and Punchbowl News, Democrats, along with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, are suggesting Tuberville is jeopardizing United States national security in his efforts to reverse a Department of Defense (DOD) policy from February that Republicans say is equivalent to the government funding abortions.
"I hate to have to do this," Tuberville said Monday. "It's unfortunate, but we make the laws over here — the DOD doesn't."
"This is not about abortion. It's about taxpayer-funded abortions … if this was about a list of personnel, people actually doing the fighting, this might be different … if this had to do with winning a war, obviously I wouldn't be doing this."
In February, the DOD updated its policies in response to the Supreme Court's decision to allow states to decide their own abortion policies. The new DOD policy includes full coverage of travel expenses for troops seeking an out-of-state abortion. In a long-standing legal restriction — prior to the update — military health insurance has been limited to covering abortions solely in the case of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.
Reactions from Republicans to Tuberville's tactic were met with mixed praise. While some Republicans on the committee lamented the political move, citing restricting abortion access could impact military readiness, others have cheered on the senator from Alabama.
Conversely, however, on Monday, a group of 36 Democrat senators and two independents sent a letter to the Pentagon expressing their support for the updated abortion policy.
On Tuesday, Austin stated that roughly 80,000 women troops don't get to decide where they are stationed.
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