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Hirono Applauds DOD Guidance on Access to Reproductive Care for Servicemembers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded the Department of Defense’s (DOD) step to release of directed policies expanding access to reproductive care for servicemembers. The policies extend the timeframe for servicemembers to inform their commanders about a pregnancy, enable servicemembers  to request an administrative absence from their duty station to access reproductive care without being charged leave, and authorize travel and transportation allowances for servicemembers and dependents to travel to access reproductive care. These policies implement Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s October 2022 memo on Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health Care. In June, following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Senator Hirono led a group of her Senate colleagues in calling on DOD to take immediate steps to support and protect female servicemembers seeking abortion services.

“The guidance released by DOD will help protect servicemembers' right to access reproductive care, regardless of their rank or where they are stationed,” said Senator Hirono. “When the far-right majority on the Supreme Court overturned Roe and eliminated the constitutional right to abortion care, servicemembers in states across the country found themselves suddenly unable to access basic reproductive care. I appreciate Secretary Austin using his authority to address this crisis by taking steps to help reduce barriers to reproductive care for the more than 200,000 women serving in our Armed Forces access. I’ll continue fighting to defend every person’s fundamental right to make decisions about their own body and their future, and I hope the Biden Administration will continue doing everything in its power to protect abortion access.”

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. Earlier this month, she introduced the Secure Access for Essential Reproductive (SAFER) Health Act, legislation that would expand patient privacy protections by strengthening the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to prohibit medical providers from disclosing personal health information related to abortion or pregnancy loss without patient consent.

In August, she introduced the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act to protect doctors against Republicans’ non-stop attacks and ensure they can safely provide abortion care in states where it is still legal. She also led a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services urging them to make medication abortion more easily accessible. In July, Senator Hirono introduced the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022, which clarifies that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services, and would empower impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.