It’s “impossible” to look at the Supreme Court’s decision without also considering the “serious problem of sexual violence in the military,” said Nathalie Grogan, a research associate at the Center for New American Security’s Military, Veterans, and Society Program. Previously, women in the military may have been able to find abortion care in a civilian clinic if they became pregnant from an assault. Now, depending on which state they’re in, their only option will be getting that care through the military system. And receiving an abortion through the military is dependent on a service member’s physician noting their “good faith belief, based on all available information, that the pregnancy was the result of an act of rape or incest,” according to Tricare.
The decision leaves some women feeling uncertain about how miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies could be handled by military doctors, as well. If a woman visits a military doctor and is pregnant, and then no longer is by the time of her next visit, “are they going to question her if she had an abortion or if she had a miscarriage?” one Army veteran previously told Task & Purpose. Not to mention that the treatment for miscarriages, which occur in up to 20% of pregnancies by some estimates, and abortions are often “very similar.”
This could also have serious implications for recruitment and readiness. Grogan noted that Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, which is the primary recruiting target for the military, is “much more interested in joining an organization that aligns with their values.” And while the Supreme Court’s decision was of course made outside of the military, the services will be “fighting perceptions” about what “people assume about the military.”
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