FACT CHECK: Does The Department Of Defense Pay For Abortions?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

In a Jul. 18 interview with CNN anchor Jake Tapper, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis purports the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) pays for female troops’ abortions.

Verdict: True

An October 2022 memo from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicates the DOD can pay for troops and their dependents to receive abortions the DOD cannot perform.

Fact Check:

DeSantis discussed the DOD’s policy on female troops’ abortions, among other topics, during his one-on-one interview with Tapper highlighting his 2024 presidential bid, according to The New York Times. The interview follows a recent Florida Atlantic University Mainstreet PolCom Lab poll that showed DeSantis 20 points behind former President Donald Trump in the state’s presidential primary, The Hill reported.

“With respect to the military… we’re going to reverse the abortion tourism policy in the Department of Defense. They’re actually paying people to go and get abortions with American tax dollars as part of the military. They won’t even pay you, you lose a loved one and you don’t even get that type of time off to do funerals. And, so, we’re going to continue to stand for life and we’re going to make sure that everybody knows that,” DeSantis told Tapper during the interview.

An October 2022 memo from the U.S. DOJ indicates the DOD can pay for troops and their dependents to receive abortions the DOD cannot perform. The same memo references statute 10 U.S.C. § 1093(a), stating that military facilities can only be used to perform abortions where the mother’s life is endangered or where rape or incest have occurred.

Female troops who undergo an out-of-state abortion will receive up to three weeks of leave and have their travel expenses paid, according to a February 2023 article from Military.com. They also have up to 20 weeks to notify their commands they are pregnant, according to the same article.

Approved troops “may be authorized for travel and transportation allowances to access non-covered reproductive health care services when timely access to non-covered reproductive health care services is not available within the local area” or when the non-covered reproductive health care services “are at the patient’s expense,” according to a DOD fact sheet.

The DOD outlined these policies to ensure female troops would still have access to abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, Military.com indicated. (RELATED: Did A Pentagon’ Accounting Error’ Allow An Extra $6.2 Trillion In Military Aid To Ukraine?)

Of course, DeSantis is not the first Republican lawmaker to condemn the DOD’s abortion policies. Others, including Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker, also called out the department.

“The Pentagon should be singularly focused on improving readiness and lethality, and there is no compelling argument or data that shows aiding abortions helps us complete that mission,” Wicker said in a statement, according to a Feb. 17 article published in the Military Times.

“Heavy-handed, far-left social policy has no place at the Department of Defense,” he added.

Check Your Fact has contacted the DOD, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Center for Reproductive Rights for comment and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter