FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Conservative leaders representing millions of pro-life Americans are joining forces with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., to overturn the Defense Department’s newly revamped and expansive abortion policies.
Tuberville is blocking the confirmations of U.S. military flag and general officers, as well as civilian nominees, unless the Pentagon rescinds policies that could lead to a massive increase in the annual number of abortions from approximately 20 to more than 4,000.
Now, with the backing of 22 pro-life conservative leaders, many of them affiliated with well-known organizations, the Alabama Republican has a grassroots army standing with him.
“The mission of the U.S. military is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, not to pursue an abortion agenda being pushed by the Biden administration and their radical allies on the outside,” the conservative leaders write in a letter to all 49 Senate Republicans that was shared exclusively with The Daily Signal. (The letter, dated Wednesday, appears in its entirety at the bottom of this report.)
Signatories include Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation; Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America; Dr. Ben Carson, former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life Action; Brent Bozell, founder and president of the Media Research Center; and 15 others. (The Daily Signal is the media outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
Tuberville warned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in October to steer clear of divisive abortion policies at the Pentagon or face the prospect that military nominations wouldn’t receive a Senate confirmation vote.
Austin ignored the warning, announcing on Feb. 16 the Defense Department would provide three weeks of paid leave and reimbursement of travel expenses for military personnel and dependents who are seeking an abortion. The defense secretary attempted to justify the move by claiming it would protect “readiness of the force.”
“This claim seeks to make the official U.S. military policy to be that aborting a child is better for the U.S. military then embracing parenthood,” the 22 conservative leaders write to GOP senators.
They continue: “The acting assistant secretary of defense for health affairs admitted that according to a Rand [Corporation] study, the new policy will lead to increasing the number of taxpayer-funded abortions from 20 to 4,100 every year.”
Tuberville is holding firm in spite of opposition from some Senate colleagues.
With the 100-member Senate so narrowly divided, Democrats have focused on confirming President Joe Biden’s nominees. Although executive branch and judicial nominees typically draw most headlines, the Senate also must approve military appointments and promotions.
By placing a hold on military generals, Tuberville is using that leverage to pick a fight with the Pentagon over its abortion policies.
His decision led to a contentious exchange last week with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who attempted to circumvent Tuberville by confirming the Defense Department nominees through unanimous consent rather than regular order.
“Three months ago, I informed Secretary Austin that if he tried to turn the [Defense Department] into an abortion travel agency, I would place a hold on all civilian, flag, and general officer nominees,” Tuberville said last week. “Secretary Austin’s new abortion policy is immoral and arguably illegal. If he wants to change the law, he needs to go through Congress.”
Bennet is also attempting to exact revenge by using his leverage with Biden to reverse the U.S. Air Force’s decision to move the headquarters of U.S. Space Command to Huntsville, Alabama, although Bennet’s effort appears doomed to fail.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the Defense Department issued an Oct. 20, 2022, memorandum, “Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care,” promising easier access to abortion for U.S. military personnel.
The Pentagon outlined policies last month that allow service members to have an abortion without being docked leave and also grant travel and transportation allowances to individuals who don’t live in an area with an abortion provider.
“The efforts taken by the department today will not only ensure that service members and their families are afforded time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, but will also ensure service members are able to access non-covered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed,” the Pentagon announced in a Feb. 16 statement.
Beginning in 1980 with passage of the Hyde Amendment, named for then-Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., Congress has restricted use of federal funding to pay for abortions. Lawmakers have placed Hyde-like restrictions on funds available to the Defense Department as well.
The Biden administration has taken several steps to expand abortion access throughout the federal government since the Supreme Court’s ruling last June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The recent move by the Pentagon trigged outrage among other Republicans in addition to Tuberville.
“My concerns with this policy aren’t just about abortion itself; they’re about what signal this sends to military families—and especially military women—who choose to have children rather than prevent or abort them,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said. “That signal is not an encouraging one.”
Added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: “The president is now paying for abortion travel. Destroying innocent life doesn’t help women or strengthen our military.”
What follows is the text of the 22 conservatve leaders’ letter Wednesday to Senate Republicans.
We, the undersigned groups representing millions of Americans, are grateful to Senator Tommy Tuberville, R-AL, and those who have joined him in standing against the Biden administration in defense of innocent unborn children.
Prior to the release of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s October 20, 2022, memorandum outlining how the Biden administration would start promoting abortion through the Department of Defense (DOD), Senator Tuberville made it clear that if the DOD went ahead with their plans he would put a hold on all DOD civilian and general flag officer nominations.
Despite the warnings, Secretary Austin pursued this radical move to turn the DOD into an abortion facilitator, under the false flag that it would protect “readiness of the force.” This claim seeks to make the official U.S. military policy to be that aborting a child is better for the U.S. military then embracing parenthood. In response, Senator Tuberville made it clear he would stick up for the U.S. military in opposition to this destructive policy.
“The Secretary of Defense is following through with his radical plan to facilitate thousands of abortions a year with taxpayer dollars. So, I will follow through with my plan to hold all Department of Defense (DoD) civilian, flag, and general officer nominations that come before the U.S. Senate.” – Senator Tommy Tuberville, R-AL.
The mission of the U.S. military is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, not to pursue an abortion agenda being pushed by the Biden administration and their radical allies on the outside.
Senator Tuberville understands the importance of the military, and he seeks to stop it from becoming an abortion facilitator that would encourage pregnant service women to choose a taxpayer subsidized abortion instead of giving birth to the child.
The acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs admitted that according to a RAND study, the new policy will lead to increasing the number of taxpayer-funded abortions from 20 to 4,100every year, leading to the loss of over 4,000 innocent lives.
It is for those lives, and the reputation of the U.S. Armed Forces as an institution which defends life and freedom, that Senator Tuberville and his allies are standing up for. We appeal to all senators to join with Senator Tuberville until this death-promoting policy from the Biden administration is overturned.
We look forward to working with all of you in support of these efforts as well as working to overturn the policy through the Appropriations process.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President
Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America
Kevin Roberts, President
The Heritage Foundation
Dr. Ben Carson, Founder and Chairman
American Cornerstone Institute
Tony Perkins, President
Family Research Council
Jeanne Mancini, President
March for Life Action
Brent Bozell, Founder and President
Media Research Center
Morton Blackwell, Chairman
Conservative Leadership PAC
Dean Nelson, Executive Director
Human Coalition Action
Penny Nance, President
Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
Jessica Anderson, Executive Director
Heritage Action for America
Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO
Americans United for Life.
Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D. , President
The Ethics and Public Policy Center
Ken Blackwell, Chairman
Conservative Action Project
Mike Berry, Vice President of External Affairs
Star Parker, Founder and President
Center for Urban Renewal and Education
Paul Teller, Executive Director
Advancing American Freedom
David Bozell, President
Elaine Donnelly, President
Center for Military Readiness
Kelly Shackelford, President/CEO
First Liberty Institute
Tom Fitton, President
U.S. House of Representatives
Former Member, Ohio
Diana L. Banister
Sovereign Global Solutions
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