CV NEWS FEED // Two Republican senators recently demanded answers from the U.S. Department of Defense concerning conscience protections for those required to implement the Biden administration’s military abortion and travel policy.
Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) wrote to U.S. Secretary of Defense LLoyd Austin this week, stating that “servicemembers or civilians tasked with carrying out this administration’s abortion leave and travel policy” have the right to refuse to implement the policy based on religious grounds.
The policy, which has long been protested by conservative lawmakers, allows the Department of Defense to use taxpayer dollars to fund administrative absences for members of the military seeking an abortion. The federal funds may also be used to pay for transportation to an abortion facility.
Thune and Hyde-Smith called the policy a “blatant end-run” around the Hyde Amendment, a 1977 amendment that forbids the government to use federal funds for abortions.
“Not only is this policy a violation of the spirit of the law, it threatens to violate the sincerely held moral and religious convictions of the men and women burdened with implementing it,” the senators wrote.
Thune and Hyde-Smith added that they believe the abortion and travel policy does not have “conscience protections,” which would allow servicemembers or civilians to decline to carry out the policy because of their religious beliefs.
“Our military leaders selflessly answer the call to serve our nation, assuming great personal risk and sacrifice. Their responsibilities already require tremendous testing of the soul and spirit,” the senators continued. “It is a mistake to tax them further by compelling them to play even a perfunctory role in the Biden administration’s abortion leave and travel policy.”
The senators also pointed to a mass “exodus” of military members who left after the military refused to honor their religious beliefs concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Failure to learn from such errors and honor the deeply held convictions of our servicemembers may spur more untimely separations,” Thune and Hyde-Smith warned.
The senators included a set of questions in the letter, asking for more information about the Department of Defense’s policies regarding conscience protections. They have given Austin 30 days to respond.