DoD lifts ban on abortion care websites

The Department of Defense is removing online restrictions for service members attempting to visit abortion care websites.

The Pentagon decided to lift the restrictions in the name of providing proper medical care. The ruling comes just weeks after the Supreme Court overturned a Roe v. Wade, who had been protecting the right to abortion for half a century.

“We are continually evaluating categorized content that is blocked on DoD networks,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman, a Pentagon…

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The Department of Defense is removing online restrictions for service members attempting to visit abortion care websites.

The Pentagon decided to lift the restrictions in the name of providing proper medical care. The ruling comes just weeks after the Supreme Court overturned a Roe v. Wade, who had been protecting the right to abortion for half a century.

“We are continually evaluating categorized content that is blocked on DoD networks,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman, a Pentagon spokesman, told Federal News Network. “We have determined that we should allow content classified as abortion-related on health care requirements.”

Gorman said the DoD is currently working on its networks to ensure the restriction is lifted in a uniform manner. He added that the Pentagon will update its broader policy to “ensure consistency and access to appropriate information for the DoD workforce.”

The restrictions date back to 2010, when the Pentagon blocked websites due to server bandwidth.

Under this policy, service members were barred from accessing sites like Planned Parenthood.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin promises to protect servicemen’s right to abortion under federal law. This only applies to “covered” abortions, i.e. the termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening situations.

The Pentagon has released some guidance on the situation.

“Federal law prohibits the department from performing abortions or paying to have them performed unless the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or unless the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest,” Gilbert Cisneros, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Preparedness, wrote on June 28.

As of July 1, nine states have banned abortions and four are trying to ban them, but are being held up in court. Four more states are expected to ban abortions soon, and four more have restricted abortions.

Some service members seeking abortions not covered by the military may have to travel hundreds of miles and pay thousands of dollars to get the care they need.

The Cisneros memo says service members can still take time off to find abortion care.

“Emergency convalescent leave access remains unchanged for all service members,” he wrote. “DoD civilian employees may continue to request sick leave and other forms of leave as necessary to meet the health care needs of the employee and family members.”

However, taking this leave can be complex. Service members must request leave from their commanding officers, which can lead to confidentiality issues if leave requests need to be expedited.

Abortions remain rare in military medical structures. Only 91 have been completed in the past five years. These data do not include ectopic pregnancies, which would result in miscarriage.