Tuberville Scorches Pentagon over ‘Embarrassing’ Abortion Policy Rewrite
You won’t find many fans of the Pentagon’s radical new abortion policy among the 200 senior officers waiting on their promotions. Those celebrations are on hold, thanks to the GOP’s outrage over the Defense Department’s latest power grab. If the president wants to turn our Armed Forces into an “abortion travel agency” without consulting Congress, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) warned, then Republicans will make it hurt. If that means some service members get caught in the crossfire, he’s sorry. But at the end of the day, the coach told “Washington Watch,” “somebody has to stand up to the Biden administration.”
Republicans have been trying since last summer to nip the DOD’s overreach in the bud. In three separate letters, Senate conservatives demanded to know why Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was trying to unilaterally overturn the ban on taxpayer-funded abortions in the military. Obviously, Tuberville pointed out, there are plenty of constitutional problems with that idea — namely, that the Pentagon doesn’t have the authority to do it. Lawmaking is “[supposed to be] done over here in Congress,” he insisted to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. The idea that the Department of Defense is “deciding on their own that they were going to change the abortion policy in our military” is outrageous, Tuberville contended.
To force the Pentagon to think twice, Tuberville warned way back in December that he would gum up the promotion process for civilian and flag officer promotions if Austin went through with it. “Number one, our military’s for national security. We need to stay out [of] all these woke policies. And number two, we need to make sure that we do what’s right for the people in this country that elect our leaders. …Why do we even have a Congress if we’re going to let an administration just run roughshod over all the rules and policies we have in place?” he asked.
Before Austin’s policy took effect in early March, taxpayers were only responsible for a service member’s abortion in the extreme cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother was at risk. That translated into about 20 abortions a year. But the DOD argued that the limitations were affecting military readiness, and that America’s mission would be better served if the Pentagon opened shop for all service members’ — and their dependents’ — abortions.
“This Department of Defense decided on their own that they’re going to change this,” Tuberville explained. “First they said [it hurt] national security, and then they turn around and said, ‘Well, it’s also hurting our recruiting.’ … I hadn’t heard that before. And now, all of a sudden, this poor woke military that you’re building, you’re blaming it on a few [common sense] rules that we want to try to keep the same. …[W]e had 20 or less [abortions] over all these years per year … and there [were] no complaints. Everybody kind of understood what was going on. But these people are 100% for abortion everywhere. And since Roe v. Wade, they have looked for every avenue they possibly can to circumvent [the law]. And so this is one of them.”
Just how devastating would the Biden policy be? According to a third-party survey that the Republicans commissioned, the number of abortions under the DOD’s rule would jump from 20 a year to 4,000 — turning a military meant to protect lives into their biggest enemy.
In a letter to Austin, Senate Republicans blasted the messaging coming out of the DOD, which essentially “tell[s] our service members pregnancy is a liability to the force. They also imply our military’s success hinges on access to abortion. The former is a mistake; the latter is false.”
Perkins, a Marine veteran, could only shake his head. “This military is so focused on this woke agenda that it’s crowding out the military’s main mission. And that’s dangerous. It’s undermining national security. But now, the Biden administration is taking it a step [too far]. They’re transforming military and VA facilities into abortion businesses, and, in some cases, gender reassignment clinics.”
At the end of the day, Perkins insisted, Congress holds the purse strings. Tuberville smiled knowingly, repeating what he said to Austin, which was, “[T]he last time I looked, none of y’all in the Department of Defense ran for office. You weren’t elected to Congress to change the rules. … They can’t do it, and they’re saying they can. … And so, if they want to drag this out, I’m willing to drag it out. You know, I hate it that people are going to be held up because of some policy that the Department of Defense thinks they’ve got authority over. But good luck. We’re going to hold onto this as long as we possibly can…”
The Biden administration may be set on “taking this country apart from the inside out,” Tuberville said. “But we’re not going [to] tear our Constitution up. We’re going to make sure everybody goes by it.”
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.