Hundreds of veterans and an organization representing more than 2,500 military chaplains have signed onto a letter defending Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) decision to hold Pentagon nominees until the U.S. military reverses its decision to fund abortion tourism.
“There is no truth more profound than the fact that all human life is sacred,” reads the letter, which the Daily Signal published last week.
It reads, “The mission of the United States Military is to defend and protect all American lives – not subsidize the practice of destroying innocent and vulnerable American children via abortion with taxpayer dollars. By pledging to hold these nominations to the Department of Defense until administration officials reverse course, Senator Tuberville is doing a great service for the American people – including its service members.”
Among the signatories were Reps. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Ronny Johnson (R-Texas), Andrew S. Clyde (R-Ga.), and Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), who has been vocal in calling for justice for the five nearly full-term aborted babies found in medical waste bins outside of a D.C. abortion clinic. Also included was the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty whose signature “includes 32 endorsers and partners that represent the position of over 2,500 military chaplains,” according to the letter.
According to The Hill, Tuberville has been holding up nominees since February. He threatened to block nominees as far back as December after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released his memo announcing intentions to support servicemembers’ abortions.
On Feb. 16, the Defense Department issued its policy providing 21 days of paid leave for individuals and dependents of those who receive non-covered abortions. “Covered abortions” are those the military funds and include situations where the life of the mother is considered to be in danger or involving a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest (The Hyde Amendment prevents taxpayer funding for other abortions). The military’s policy also opened the possibility of travel and transportation allowances while clarifying that “[t]he non-covered reproductive health care is at the Service member’s expense.”
It’s unclear how many abortions would result but the Rand Corporation said one of its surveys indicated “as many as 4,100 active-duty U.S. service women seek abortion care each year.” Women in the military, like Bethany Saros, have said they are often pressured into abortion. “The unspoken code is that a good soldier will have an abortion…” said Saros.
Tuberville’s decision has caused quite a stir with backlash coming from both sides of the aisle.
The Hill reported that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she preferred Tuberville “focus his holds on political appointees.” An unnamed Republican senator suggested Tuberville was undermining military readiness.
“Our country faces significant challenges, we have a significant adversary that is threatening our country’s national security and well-being, and we need a full team in place,” the senator reportedly said according to The Hill. “The circumstances we find ourselves in is a real threat to the future of our country. It’s not a time for us to be divided; it’s also not a time to not have all of our players on the field.”
Last week’s letter argues instead that the military’s readiness has been harmed by the Biden administration’s “politicized agenda”:
While some claim that Sen. Tuberville’s position is negatively impacting military readiness, the Department of Defense has failed to present any evidence that substantiates this claim. To the contrary, it appears true that the politicized agenda of Secretary Austin and the Biden administration are significantly diminishing military readiness. The American people, including its servicemembers, are disappointed by President Biden and Secretary Austin’s recent decisions to mandate receipt of the COVID-19 vaccines, promote the radical LGBT agenda, and now subsidize abortion. Because of these policies, the military now faces an unprecedented crisis of recruitment – missing its recruitment goal for the first time ever last year. The focus of our military must be on keeping the American people safe, not advancing the left-wing social agenda.
That letter went to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – both of whom have expressed opposition to Tuberville’s interest in blocking nominees. Besides the veterans, Tuberville has received support from a series of conservative and pro-life groups as part of another letter reported on in March.
7 former Secretaries of Defense from Republican and Democratic administrations are not mincing words:
They’re saying GOP Senator Tuberville’s blanket holds on the nominations of senior military leaders are “harming military readiness and risks damaging US national security” pic.twitter.com/WqjjFQia2R
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 4, 2023
Schumer, meanwhile, posted a May 4 letter with seven former Defense secretaries warning that Tuberville’s holds were harming military readiness and risking damage to U.S. national security.
Austin similarly sent a letter on May 5 to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whom he said had requested information on the impact of Tuberville’s actions. He warned that Tuberville was setting a “perilous precedent” and noted that the stalled confirmations were for positions that “oversee more than 1.2 million active and reserve component Service members and provide Service personnel and resources to the commanders of the unified combatant commands.” He also noted, “Without these leaders in place, the U.S. military will incur an unnecessary and unprecedented degree of risk at a moment when our adversaries may seek to test our resolve.”
Tuberville has reportedly said that he’s willing to release the nominees if the Senate allows a floor vote on a measure that would prohibit the military from assisting with servicemembers’ abortions.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has championed a federal, 15-week abortion restriction, defended Tuberville. “At first, I was concerned, but now all he wants is a vote,” he said, according to The Hill. “I can’t believe they’re denying him a vote.”