House Democrats Rush to Preserve Abortion Access for Troops

However, Wednesday’s debates are likely the opening shot of broader battles in the House and Senate in light of the Supreme Court’s looming landmark decision.

an initial Dobbs x Jackson the majority opinion written by Judge Samuel Alito and obtained by POLITICO in May would overthrow the 1973 government Roe v. wade decision. The ruling would be in Mississippi’s favor over the state’s decision to ban most abortions after 15 weeks.

Representative Andy Harris (R-Md.) introduced an amendment to attack the military provision that would have protected troops’ access to abortion, and said the Democrats’ decision to include protection was political. He questioned why similar leave protections were not included for troops seeking cancer screenings and mental health therapy.

“This is interfering with the military that this committee shouldn’t be doing,” Harris said. “This is a very important project for this kind of policy.”

DeLauro pushed back against the Harris amendment, arguing that Congress must step up efforts to support the military during and after pregnancy.

About two dozen states already have trigger laws in place if the decision is overturned by the court.

“How cruel it is to deny women the ability to make their own medical decisions and then fail to support them once the child is born,” she said. “If they frankly are unlucky enough to be stationed in one of those 26 states, the least we can do for them is make sure they can take leave to get the medical care they need.”

The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, already limits the Pentagon’s ability to provide federal funding for abortions unless the patient’s life is at risk.

Tricare, the Pentagon’s health program, only covers abortions in cases of rape or incest, or if the patient’s health is at stake.

Republicans further attacked the issue, despite failing to introduce a separate amendment that would have prohibited the military from redeploying personnel to avoid discriminatory local laws.

Alabama Republican Representative Robert Aderholt, who introduced the amendment, criticized a leaked Army memorandum in May that would have allowed soldiers to request transfers based on local laws that discriminate against sex, gender, religion, race or pregnancy.

Compassionate transfer, a broader version of the policy that already exists, allows the military to seek changes to other states if they experience a family emergency or hardship.

Republican lawmakers attacked the proposed expansion of the policy, saying it could undermine unit cohesion and force military leaders to make policy decisions about whether to grant troop reassignments.

“Our nation’s armed forces must not be divided geographically on the basis of ideology, but must be united in the service of our country,” Aderholt said.

Democrats rejected the amendment, and Representative Grace Meng (DN.Y.) used the Republicans’ argument to her advantage, highlighting how the proposal goes beyond the committee’s jurisdiction.

“There should be no exception when a member of our military has dependents, family members affected by the dozens of new state laws that restrict rights like reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights, it’s an exaggeration,” Meng said.

Although the disposition escaped the attacks of the GOP in the 32-26 approval of the committee’s $762 billion defense legislation, a Supreme Court decision to overturn roe could ignite the negotiations over the provision in the upcoming debates on defense financing.

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