Pentagon allows networks to access abortion-related websites

The Department of Defense (DOD) said Wednesday it would allow its networks to access abortion-related websites, allowing military and civilian personnel to access those sites on agency computers.

“We are continuously evaluating categorized content that is blocked on DOD networks,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Gorman told The Hill in an emailed statement.

“We have decided that we should allow content classified as abortion-related on health care requirements,” he added.

Gorman told The Hill that access to these sites was previously limited due to bandwidth issues.

“We are currently working across all DOD networks to ensure the restriction is lifted in a consistent manner,” he added. “Additionally, we are updating our broader policy to ensure consistency and access to appropriate information for the DoD workforce.”

Change, which was first reported by The Military Timescomes as the agency faces tough questions about how it will protect service members seeking abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion.

Federal law prohibits the military from providing the service unless a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if it endangers the life of the parent.

Last Tuesday, Gil Cisneros, undersecretary of defense for personnel and preparedness, issued a memo saying the High Court action would not affect the agency’s ability to provide abortions.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) led a group of her fellow Democrats in a letter on Friday urging Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to protect the abortion rights of service members, especially in states that are on the point of restricting the service.

“Entrusted to you are hundreds of thousands of Department of Defense (DOD) soldiers, dependents, and civilians who have lost access to safe abortions and now face threats of criminal prosecution for seeking these services,” the Democrats wrote.

“As head of our military services, it is your responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and guardians,” they added.