Sen. Tommy Tuberville is standing firm in his determination to stop Defense Department travel subsidies for abortions. Pushback against his stand is not surprising, but the vitriol aimed at the Alabama Republican suggests the controversy involves more than just taxpayer-funded abortion.
On Oct. 20, 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a memorandum offering generous time off and travel subsidies for military women and families seeking abortions across state lines. To stop Austin’s unilateral action, Tuberville put a “hold” on group confirmations of Department of Defense personnel nominations and promotions.
Critics are accusing Tuberville of harming national security, but as Tuberville recently proved, his hold does not preclude confirmation of individual nominations. Both political parties historically have used this legislative “check and balance” option to delay or defeat some executive branch proposals.
Tuberville Attacks Escalate
Tuberville’s determination has caused heads to explode with disproportionate fury. National Security Spokesman John Kirby launched an impassioned tirade proclaiming the Pentagon’s “foundational, sacred obligation” to subsidize abortions. Then a trio of top civilian leaders castigated Tuberville in an op-ed and a joint CNN interview.
Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro accused Sen. Tuberville of “aiding and abetting a communist [government]” and “playing Russian roulette” with the lives of service members. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall complained about “taunting” from a Chinese colonel criticizing our democracy.
According to Politico, only “a small number” of military women have sought travel expenses related to abortion. Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a letter whether reports that “approximately 12 women” have used the abortion travel program were accurate.
America’s military strength does not depend on military women aborting their babies. And the Senate can confirm deserving nominees later if not sooner. So, what explains the relentless personal attacks on Tuberville?
Big Money and Gender Politics
Consider this. If Austin can get away with subsidizing abortion without a vote of Congress, Pentagon ideologues and outside activists will not stop there. The same officials who have willingly enlisted in the administration’s campaign for abortion until birth will demand “access” to other controversial services deemed “medically necessary.”
Austin’s memorandum used the keywords “access” or “accessing reproductive health care,” meaning abortion, seven times on three pages. DOD Instruction 1300.28, which expanded Defense Department regulations regarding transgender-identified personnel, used the word “access” for so-called “gender-affirming care” 17 times on 22 pages.
It is easy to predict where activists and highly paid Pentagon “experts” are going with this. Unless Congress intervenes, DOD abortion travel subsidies will set a precedent for more expenditures not authorized by Congress. These will include generous time off and travel subsidies for adults and children seeking “gender-affirming care” across state lines.
This is not a novel idea. Some private companies, like Indeed, Intuit, Netflix, and Starbucks, are offering travel benefits and “gender-affirming care” insurance for their employees. If the DOD extends similar travel and treatment subsidies to military personnel and families, this will create a huge new market for providers of these services.
This may explain why 155 members of Congress — a regular who’s who of LGBT leftist activists — co-signed a letter demanding that conferees working on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2024 remove any prohibitions on the use of DOD funds for transgender treatments. The letter specifically mentions House NDAA sections barring funding through TRICARE insurance or the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) for children receiving “gender-affirming” (including genital mutilation and chemical castration) interventions in states where they are legal.
According to The Daily Caller, the Department of Defense is already quietly using EFMP funds to cover travel expenses of parents seeking transgender medical interventions for their children. In response, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., successfully sponsored an amendment to the NDAA to prohibit the Defense Department from using EFMP funds for “gender transition procedures.”
Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., sponsored a measure barring TRICARE coverage for sex-denying hormones and surgeries, which is in the pending defense bill, and Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, introduced another measure that passed the House and would end DOD abortion travel subsidies.
If conferees remove these provisions from the NDAA, nothing will stand in the way of unilateral Defense Department travel subsidies for non-covered abortions and “medically necessary” transgender interventions and surgeries for adults and children crossing state lines.
Prioritizing Transgender Service Members
Investigative journalist Jennifer Bilek reported that the billionaire Pritzker family and related philanthropic outfits promote “synthetic sexual identities,” known as SSI, by pouring millions into LGBT groups, including some that are advising Pentagon officials on transgender policies.
The Pentagon is not reporting current expenditures related to Biden’s policies, but a Trump administration panel of experts assessing costs of transgender policies implemented under Barack Obama reported a 300 percent increase in medical costs for 994 active-duty service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
The panel also found some commanders had to divert operational and maintenance funds to pay for active-duty servicemembers’ travel throughout the United States to obtain specialized “transition” treatments and surgeries.
A new Government Accountability Office report revealed shoddy, unsafe living conditions in military barracks, but this Pentagon likely will assign priority to the “sacrament” of abortion and costly attempts to pursue synthetic sexual identities.
The Defense Department exists to defend the country, not to spend untold millions on controversial medical procedures. If Tuberville backs down on abortion subsidies, demands for free travel expenses and time off for military personnel seeking sex-denying treatments and surgeries for themselves or dependent children logically will follow.
Tuberville should continue to stand firm, Congress should lend support in the pending defense bill, and Austin should rescind the abortion subsidies that triggered the confirmation impasse without further delay.