(Press Release) U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense again asking for information to support the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy.
Wicker’s request follows a new report that indicates the Pentagon has little data to support the claim that a national abortion policy change would have a deleterious impact on readiness.
Specifically, Wicker wrote in response to a notification from the Department of Defense regarding a study that it intends to conduct related to “service members’ experiences with family planning,” as the Department currently has insufficient information on abortion policies and their impacts.
The Mississippi senator expressed that it is completely contradictory to be searching for data on abortion while also making the assertion that abortion policy changes have impacted readiness.
“The Biden Administration’s repeated assertion that that there is force-wide readiness challenge due to limited abortion access cannot possibly be true if, simultaneously, the Department of Defense admits that it needs to study ‘areas related to family planning that may threaten the DOD’s ability to field a ready and lethal force.’
If the Administration were actually committed to maintaining an apolitical military, a study such as this should have been undertaken months before you promulgated this divisive and inflammatory policy,” Wicker wrote.
“The resulting politicization of our armed forces has been shameful and completely self-inflicted. It is incumbent upon this administration to retract these unsubstantiated abortion-related readiness claims.”
The letter follows other similar letters drafted by Senator Wicker to the Department on abortion policy.
In July 2022, Wicker joined his Republican Senate Armed Services Committee colleagues on a letter asking for data to support the claim from the Department that recent policy changes had put negative pressure on military readiness.
On September 15, Wicker sent a similar letter to the Department of Defense, adding that he had received information suggesting only 12 women had utilized the authorities granted by the abortion policy implemented by the Biden administration.
Read the full letter here or below.
October 27, 2023
The Honorable Lloyd J. Austin III
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am once again requesting information related to the abortion policies instituted by your department in February 2023.
The Senate Armed Services Committee discovered your department is seeking public comment on proposed focus groups and surveys to be conducted with military personnel to “highlight areas related to family planning that may threaten the DoD’s ability to field a ready and lethal force.”
In other words, over a year after you stated unequivocally that the Dobbs ruling has “readiness, recruiting, and retention implications for the Force” the Department of Defense is still searching for evidence to support this baseless claim.
The same notification for the department’s proposed study also states that “there is little existing research on service members’ experiences with family planning.”
The intention to study this topic in the fashion described in the public notice– as well as the concession that little data exists on the issue–completely undermines previous statements made repeatedly by you and other senior Defense officials about the necessity of your abortion travel policy.
On June 28, 2022, then-Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Cisneros claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling “will have significant implications for…the readiness of the Force.”
In comments you made on June 25, 2022, you mentioned access to abortion directly in the context of “ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force.”
In an October 20, 2022 press call, an unnamed senior department official claimed that the “the Dobbs decision has diminished access to reproductive healthcare with…readiness impacts across the force.”
The Biden Administration’s repeated assertion that that there is a force-wide readiness challenge due to limited abortion access cannot possibly be true if, simultaneously, the Department of Defense admits that it needs to study “areas related to family planning that may threaten the DOD’s ability to field a ready and lethal force.”
If the Administration were actually committed to maintaining an apolitical military, a study such as this should have been undertaken months before you promulgated this divisive and inflammatory policy.
The resulting politicization of our armed forces has been shameful and completely self-inflicted.
It is incumbent upon this administration to retract these unsubstantiated abortion-related readiness claims, suspend this divisive policy, and take an unbiased approach to collect the necessary data to determine whether any force readiness challenges may be correlated to the recent change in law due to Dobbs.
I earnestly await your prompt reply to this letter as well as those I sent to you on March 1, 2023 and September 15, 2023.
Roger F. Wicker
Tuberville: White House would rather ‘burn the Senate down’ than negotiate on military holds (The Hill, 29 Oct 223)
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said Sunday the White House would rather “burn the Senate down” than negotiate on his blockade of more than 360 military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s new abortion policy.
“It’s typical of this place. This administration would rather burn the Senate down, and that’s what would happen. If you change the rules of the Senate then it lasts forever,” Tuberville told CNN’s Manu Raju on “Inside Politics.” “So they would rather burn down the Senate than negotiate.”
Tuberville’s comments come as Senate Democrats, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and a handful of Republicans look to pursue a rarely used procedural tactic to defeat Tuberville’s blockade as he continues to protest the Department of Defense’s abortion policies. . . .
. . . . “If they go around and, without negotiating, change the rules of the Senate, it just goes to show you they want it their way or the highway,” Tuberville said Sunday.
. . . Tuberville told CNN members of the military told him the holds are NOT impacting readiness, an argument repeatedly made by the White House and Pentagon.
“If I thought this was happening, I wouldn’t be doing this. And I’ve told you that all along. And the people that I trust tell me that it’s not,” Tuberville told CNN.
Tuberville said there has been “no conversation” with the White House about coming to a solution. . . .