Tuberville Standing Ground over Taxpayer Funding of Military Abortions
On Monday, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) reiterated his intention to continue to block the promotions of military personnel that are sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee for approval, despite intense pushback from Senate Democrats and some Republicans. So far, the senator has blocked 160 promotions in response to a controversial policy directive put in place by the Pentagon in February that allows servicemembers to receive paid time off and travel expenses for having an abortion, funded by taxpayer dollars.
Tuberville and other Republicans argue that the Pentagon rule “illegally” circumvented Congress, which they say is the only body that has the authority to institute military policies having to do with abortion due to the prohibition against using federal tax dollars to pay for the procedure. Because of the DOD’s actions, he warned last month, “I will follow through with my plan to hold all DOD civilian, flag, and general officer nominations that come before the U.S. Senate.”
On March 23, Tuberville emphasized from the Senate floor that he gave advanced warning of his plans to block military promotions. “In December I warned the department that I would hold their nominees if they tried to force abortion on demand on our military. They did it anyway. The department knew what the consequences would be. This was their choice. I will continue to hold these nominees until the Department of Defense follows the law — or Congress changes the law.”
Democrats claim that Tuberville’s actions endanger national security, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling them “reckless” and “damag[ing]” to “the readiness of our military.” Schumer went on to tell Politico that the move was “not a good look for Republicans to be holding up promotions for key military leaders.” Tuberville’s office fired off a quick response: “What’s not a good look is the Biden administration politicizing our military and illegally turning the Pentagon into an abortion travel agency.”
Meanwhile, some of Tuberville’s fellow Republicans have also questioned the strategy, with Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) commenting that while he agrees with the senator on the DOD policy, “there are a lot of military positions that need to be filled. And so we’re working with leadership and Sen. Tuberville to see what can be resolved.” Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) had a more candid opinion: “It’s a tactic that he chose to use. He has that right as a senator. It’s not one that I would use.”
Still, other GOP lawmakers are voicing staunch support for Tuberville’s strategy. “I think what they’re doing is illegal,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), referring to the Pentagon. “I don’t think they have the authority to do this. Basically they’re setting a policy to give people leave, to use taxpayer dollars, which I think runs afoul of existing law.”
Tuberville has repeatedly pressed the DOD for an explanation as to why they thought it was necessary to expand the military’s abortion policy, which they have claimed will “increase readiness.” The senator has pointed to the fact that the military has averaged fewer than 20 abortions per year, and that the Pentagon has so far failed to provide data showing that there is a need for increased abortion access for servicemembers. Press releases from Tuberville’s office have warned that “the number of abortions subsidized by taxpayers through the DOD could increase to 4,100 annually — 205 times the number of abortions performed last year” if the expanded abortion policy remains in place.
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. Boykin, a 36-year Army veteran who currently serves as executive vice president at Family Research Council, commended Tuberville’s stand.
“Senator Tuberville is showing a great deal of courage in the face of strong opposition from the abortion supporters in Alabama and the rest of the country,” he told The Washington Stand. “This country is fortunate to have a man like Senator Tuberville that is willing to stand on his convictions regardless of the criticism that he is taking. I applaud him and wish him the very best in his endeavors. He just might save the lives of many unborn children.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.