Thursday, 29 February 2024
The truth about abortion and U.S. military readiness Dingzeyu Li/Unsplash

The truth about abortion and U.S. military readiness

As the standoff continues between the U.S. armed forces and a U.S. senator over the Defense Department’s abortion policy, I read every news story, wondering if anyone is going to get around to asking military women what they think. If anyone has, I haven’t seen it.

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville has refused for the last six months to confirm nominees for top military jobs until Defense rescinds the rule it announced last year to provide time off and travel expenses for female GIs and military dependents who travel to abortion-friendly states to end their pregnancies.

Tuberville tweeted last month that abortion has nothing to do with military readiness, and while I agree with his blockade, I think he’s wrong on the readiness issue. Abortion is harming our troops and we certainly don’t need more of it.

Here’s an example: An Air Force officer who had an abortion while she was in flight school was so traumatized by the experience that when she was on her first solo flight, she thought about crashing the plane and killing herself.

“We’re going to see more of that, I’m afraid,” said Jody Duffy, an Army veteran who counsels military women who seek healing after abortion and told me the story of this married veteran’s fraught first flight.

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Our abortion-is-always-best federal government actually put in place two new abortion-related rules last year. One allows veterans and their dependents to have abortions at Veterans Affairs hospitals if their pregnancies were the result of rape or incest or if continuing to term impacts the “life and health” of the mother.

As always, it’s that health exception that opens the door to abortion on demand.

The Defense Department also announced that the military will pay travel expenses and provide three-week leave for active-duty members who want to have abortions but who live in states where the procedure has been banned since the fall of Roe v. Wade last year.

From 1973, when Roe legalized abortion nationwide, until 1980, the military was an abortion provider. But that year, the four-year-old Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funds from paying for most abortions, began to apply to the military for the first time. For 43 years, if a woman in the military, or a veteran, wanted an abortion, she had to go to an abortion business near where she was stationed. 

The Biden administration changed that, somehow sidestepping the question of who’s paying for airfare and bus fare and hotel rooms for military women to have abortions. The answer, of course, is that U.S. taxpayers are.

The new policies, Duffy said, “totally defy the Hyde Amendment.” 

The American people have been very clear time and again that they don’t want to pay for someone else’s abortion. But that’s only half the problem with the new military policy. What few are talking about is how it could impact GIs.

“After abortion,” Duffy said, “our soldiers are not emotionally or psychologically in the game.”

Many women in the military feel pressured into having an abortion. Duffy told the story of a woman in the Navy whose job was inspecting military aircraft, requiring her to climb on top of a plane and walk its length. She was fearless in the performance of her duties.

Called into a meeting of female officers, the woman recalled being told about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control options. If they became pregnant, the women were counseled, they either would have to tell their supervisors or go to Planned Parenthood. 

This woman got the message and had an abortion when she got pregnant. Later, she found herself unable to perform her job. Instead of climbing and running along a plane’s length, she had to crawl on her hands and knees. She told Duffy at a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat that the abortion was emotionally devastating and robbed her of the fearlessness she once demonstrated on the job.

In March, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee – of which Tuberville is a member – that “Not approving the recommendation for promotions actually creates a ripple effect through the force that makes us far less ready than we need to be.”

The truth is that our military readiness is being undermined by this new abortion policy, not by a slowdown in promotions. And it’s not just female service members who suffer after abortion.

A recent study on men and abortion found that 71 percent of men who lost children to abortion said they noticed adverse changes in themselves following the procedure.

Chuck Raymond and his now-wife Linda chose abortion for their first child to protect Chuck’s appointment to West Point Military Academy.

"Once I was involved in training, I got caught up in everything and suppressed the event, keeping it out of my consciousness,” Chuck has said. “Years later though, I realized that a tragedy had occurred, and we had made a tragic choice."

Chuck likens the mental and emotional anguish that can follow an abortion to battlefield post-traumatic stress disorder, which can be debilitating for service members.

Tweet This: The truth is that our military readiness is being undermined by this new abortion policy, not by a slowdown in promotions.

At a time when the armed services are struggling to respond to the alarming number of suicides in the military, Biden’s new abortion policies for veterans and active-duty personnel could be harming our troops before they ever set foot on a battlefield.

Editor's note: Janet Morana is the executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Her most recent book is Everything You Need to Know About Abortion – For Teens.

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