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The United States Army and Air Force have removed commanders’ ability to deny leave to service members attempting to obtain abortions, and those taking leave to terminate a pregnancy are now only required to tell commanders they are undergoing a medical procedure.
The updated guidance comes as a draft opinion leaked last week appears to indicate the Supreme Court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling guaranteeing abortion rights.
Some servicewomen have sought the policy change for a while, due to the extra time and money required to obtain an abortion if they are deployed or overseas, Stars and Stripes reported.
“Given the time-sensitive nature of the procedure, pregnancy termination will not require unit commander pre-approval,” the Army’s policy, updated last month, states. “Soldiers will keep their commander notified of any expected absences. … (Soldiers) may do this without providing the specifics of the underlying procedure.”
The Air Force revised its abortion guidance in June.
New rules for the branches also include guaranteed convalescent leave for women who have a miscarriage.
“The intent is not to have someone go AWOL for two weeks and then show back up,” Amy Kramer, who is in charge of the Army’s new policy, told Stars and Stripes.
“We hope that that paragraph makes it easier and puts the decision in the soldier’s hands,” she said. “It takes choice from commanders and gives it to soldiers.”
Abortion is not covered by military insurance, and armed forces facilities do not perform the procedure except in cases of rape, incest or threat to a mother’s life.