66 Members of Congress call on Secretary Austin to revoke illegal Defense Department policy funding travel for abortions

Lawmakers appalled by Biden Administration’s ‘flagrant disregard for the law’

WASHINGTON—In a bicameral letter today, 66 Members of Congress called on Secretary Lloyd Austin to “immediately” revoke his illegal Defense Department policy funding travel for abortions, saying they were “appalled by the flagrant disregard for the law” demonstrated by the Biden Administration.

The letter—led by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT) and James Lankford (R-OK)—comes on the heels of Secretary Austin’s October memorandum proclaiming that the Pentagon will pay for US service members and their dependents to travel for abortions in response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision earlier this year.

“We write in strong opposition to the memorandum,” the lawmakers wrote, which “violates decades-old federal law prohibiting the Department of Defense (DOD) from funding elective abortion (which includes facilitating such abortions), and we urge you to immediately rescind it.”

“Congress has clearly and consistently acted to prevent the U.S. military from funding elective abortion procedures and services necessitated by those procedures.

“While the memorandum claims that this policy will be implemented consistent with federal law, funding travel and transportation to obtain non-covered, elective abortions through the DOD would, in and of itself violate federal law. It also contradicts DOD’s past recognition, interpretation, and implementation of this law.”

The lawmakers cited federal law—10 U.S.C. § 1093—passed by Congress in 1984 that permanently prohibits the DOD from paying for elective abortions and noted that when President Bill Clinton tried to circumvent the law in 1993, Congress further clarified its intent by banning DOD facilities from performing abortions.

“Both the law itself and Congressional intent are clear: the U.S. military may not fund elective abortion,” the lawmakers wrote. “This necessarily includes funding for any activity necessitated by the abortion, such as travel and transportation.”