Defense & National Security — Pentagon ‘evaluating’ policies amid abortion ruling

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday the military is evaluating its policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision which guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion.

We’ll talk about Austin’s statement. Plus, we’ll examine House Appropriators adding an extension to Title 42 into the Department of Homeland Security’s budget.

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Not on the list? Subscribe here.

Military examines policies in wake of Roe ruling

The Pentagon is evaluating its policies following the Supreme Court’s Friday decision striking down Roe v. Wade, which had for nearly 50 years guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

The ruling is set to affect thousands of military personnel and their families who may be stationed or work in states where abortions will soon be outlawed or heavily restricted.

What Austin said: The Defense Department is “examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law,” Austin said in a statement.

  • “Nothing is more important to me or to this Department than the health and well-being of our Service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families. I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our Force,” he said.

  • Austin did not say what policies would be reviewed or what changes might soon be coming, if any.

Abortion and the military: The Pentagon had faced pressure ahead of the ruling over whether it would protect access to abortion for pregnant servicewomen who would have to seek the procedure in a different state than where they are stationed.

  • Such a process isn’t always easy for troops as they usually must get approval from superiors to travel from their installations.

  • Women within the Army are likely to experience the most difficulty in obtaining an abortion as it is the largest military service and has thousands of troops stationed in states that already or will soon have the strictest antiabortion laws, including Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kentucky.

Though the Army has a “compassionate reassignment” policy — a rule that permits troops to seek to change their duty station if dealing with a difficult family situation — federal funds cannot be used for abortions, including at military health care centers, unless the pregnancy is the result of incest, rape or a threat to the mother’s life.

Read the story here.

Title 42 extension added to DHS budget

House appropriators voted Friday to extend a Trump-era border policy, adding a six-month extension of Title 42 to the Department of Homeland Security Budget.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), was passed by voice vote, leaving unclear which Democrats voted in support of the effort.

Recap of Title 42: Title 42 contravenes asylum law, allowing border officials to rapidly expel migrants without allowing them to seek protection in the U.S.

  • The Biden administration continued the policy during the first year of its administration but moved in April to rescind the policy.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined the pandemic conditions that Trump used to justify his emergency order were no longer necessary as the U.S. learns to live with COVID-19.

A federal judge blocked the Biden administration from lifting Title 42, which the administration has appealed.

The amendment: The Newhouse amendment would require the Biden administration to keep the policy in place for another 180 days beyond the date that Title 42 is eventually terminated.

The House Appropriations Committee contains a number of Democrats in vulnerable districts, and a source told The Hill a whip count found more than half a dozen Democrats serving on the panel were willing to support Newhouse’s amendment.

Read the full story here.

New head of US European Command confirmed

The Senate late Thursday confirmed Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli to serve as commander of U.S. European Command by voice vote.

Cavoli, who is currently commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, will also take over as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, overseeing the planning and execution of the alliance’s operations.

About Cavoli: President Biden nominated Cavoli for the role in early May, and the Senate Armed Services Committee advanced the nomination on June 15.

  • Cavoli has served as commander of U.S. Army Europe and Africa since 2020, and before then served in a variety of roles in Asia, the U.S. and Europe.

  • He brings a wealth of expertise on Europe, however, having served as director of Russia for the Joint Staff and as a general foreign area officer with a focus on Eurasia. In addition, he speaks Italian, Russian and French.

Stepping up: Cavoli will take over as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags into its fourth month and the U.S. and the alliance rush billions of dollars in security assistance to Kyiv.

  • The alliance is hosting a summit in Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday, during which member states will endorse the alliance’s new Strategic Concept. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to also be discussed.

  • Cavoli also takes over as Finland and Sweden look to join NATO, something that Cavoli welcomed during his confirmation hearing in late May.

Read the full story here.


  • The Atlantic Council will host a discussion on “Leading from the front: How Ukraine’s local officials resist Russia” at 8 a.m.

  • The U.S. Institute of Peace will host a discussion on “Reflections from Afghan Women: The Consequences of an Unsuccessful Peace Process” at 10 a.m.

  • The Wilson Center will host an event on “Past, Present, and Future of International Organization” at 1:30 p.m.

  • The Wilson Center will host an event entitled “Hindsight Up Front: Defining a Successful Resolution to Russia’s War in Ukraine” at 2 p.m.

  • The SETA Foundation will host an event on “The Madrid Summit: NATO’s New Strategic Concept” at 2 p.m.


That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you next week!


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