Sen. Lankford, Colleagues Demand Defense Department End Funding Travel for Abortions

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — In a bicameral letter, Senator James Lankford (R-OK), along with 65 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 Lankford, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO)—comes on the heels of Secretary Austin’s October memorandum proclaiming that the Pentagon will pay for U.S. 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…[that] 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,” the lawmakers wrote. “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.

View the full letter here.