WASHINGTON — With Roe v. Wade no longer the law of the land, new questions have arisen about the ruling's impact on the thousands of women who serve in the U.S. armed forces.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has pledged that they will receive the reproductive health care that they need. But the reality is, that would become challenging -- if not impossible -- in states where abortion is outlawed.
Many women in the military have a stake in this issue. Of the nation's 1.3 million active-duty military members, 16.5 percent of them are women.
Following the Supreme Court ruling last week to end the Constitutional protection for abortion, Austin said in a statement, "The 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."
But, 26 states -- some, such as Texas with large military populations -- have already banned or are likely to severely restrict abortion soon. So, exactly how the DOD would assist military women who become pregnant living in those states remains to be seen.
Jamie Lockhart, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, is concerned.
"It's devastating to think that people who are serving our country, volunteered to serve our country, and then not having easily accessible access to health care that they need and deserve," she said.
Austin did not say what, if any, action the DOD might take. House Armed Services Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Elaine Luria (D, VA-02) said Monday that a woman’s right to choose "should be made between her, her health care provider, and her faith."
In a statement, Luria added: "All women, including those employed by the Department of Defense or actively serving in the armed forces, should have access to reproductive health care and services. I look forward to reviewing the official DoD guidance and fighting to protect the rights of all Americans, including the right to choose.”
13News Now reached out to the Family Foundation of Virginia for comment. Thus far, the pro-life organization has not replied.