In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade last Friday, the Pentagon will continue to provide abortions within the limited circumstances allowed under federal law, according to the Washington Examiner.
In a memo to senior Pentagon officials obtained by the Examiner on Tuesday, Defense Undersecretary for Personnel Gilbert Cisneros said Roe's reversal "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."
The memo follows the court's Friday decision striking down the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which had established a woman's constitutional right to abortion.
Since the high court sent the question of abortion back to the states to decide, 13 have banned all or most abortions, which could potentially create a situation where service members are stationed in a state that does not permit them or a family member to obtain an abortion.
Under federal law, the Defense Department is only able to provide abortions in cases of rape, incest, or in cases where the mother's life is at risk.
"The Supreme Court's decision does not prohibit the Department from continuing to perform covered abortions, consistent with federal law," Cisneros wrote. "There will be no interruption to this care. Health care providers will continue to follow existing departmental policy, and the leadership of military medical treatment facilities will implement measures to ensure continued access to care."
The Defense Department and the Justice Department would work together to ensure that service members and civilian employees would have legal representation if a state were to attempt to prosecute for procuring an abortion.
"It is the Department of Justice's longstanding position that states generally may not impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who perform their duties in a manner authorized by federal law," the memo reads. "We will work with the Department of Justice to ensure access to counsel for such civilian employees and Service members if needed and as appropriate."
The memo echoes comments made by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week after the ruling was handed down.
"Nothing is more important to me or to this department than the health and well-being of our service members, the civilian workforce, and DoD families," Austin said. "I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our force."
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