NLG MILITARY LAW TASK FORCE STATEMENT
With its disastrous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has endangered millions of pregnant people and stripped them of their autonomy and reproductive rights. Twenty-two states have laws or state constitutional provisions already in place that will totally or effectively ban abortion in light of the Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which holds that the U.S. Constitiution does not confer a right to abortion. Overturning Roe especially imperils the lives of the poor, people of color, and minors. It will also have an outsized effect on women in the military.
Some of the military’s largest installations are in states where abortion will immediately become banned in the wake of Roe’s repeal, including Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas, Fort Campbell in Kentucky and Tennessee, and Fort Benning in Georgia and Alabama. All told, hundreds of thousands of troops and their dependent family members will be unable to access safe and legal abortions.
Overturning Roe adds yet another layer to the gender discrimination and inequality in the military. Women in the military already face pervasive discrimination and harassment. Thousands of women service members are sexually assaulted or raped each year. Moreover, service members already have greater difficulty in accessing reproductive health care than their civilian counterparts. Federal law prohibits service members from receiving most abortions through their military health care, and military doctors are not allowed to perform abortions. Even if abortion is available in the local community and a service member can pay out of pocket for the procedure, they must have a commander approve to get leave obtain an abortion off base.
The military must not let the states dictate its service members’ abortion rights. The MLTF supports efforts to ensure that all servicemembers have safe and legal access to abortion, and that service members can request transfers out of states that will discriminate against—or take rights away from—them or their family members. The MLTF calls upon the service branches to ensure that their members have access to safe, legal abortion options, and for Congress to repeal the restrictions on military providers and health insurance providing abortion coverage.
The MLTF stands ready to assist those within the military who may be affected or at risk because of Roe v. Wade being overturned. We also work with other allied groups attempting to enact meaningful policy changes in this area.
National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force