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Heinrich Joins Effort to Provide U.S. Service Members Access to Protected Leave for Abortion & Reproductive Health Care Services

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is cosponsoring the Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Health Care Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to codify the Department of Defense’s (DOD) February 16, 2023 policy to ensure service members and their families can access non-covered reproductive health care, including abortion services, regardless of the state in which they are stationed.

An estimated 40 percent of active-duty servicewomen, who are stationed based on the needs of the nation and not personal preference, now serve in states that have banned, restricted or worked to curtail access to abortion since the overturn of Roe v. Wade last year.  

“While Republicans are dismantling a woman’s right to reproductive health care, Democrats must do everything in our power to safeguard it – including for service members who have no say in where they are stationed,” said Heinrich. “This legislation will make sure our military personnel and their loved ones can access the health care they need and deserve.”

“The onslaught of anti-women laws enacted across our country since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade have imperiled women’s access to comprehensive health care services, including abortion. Among those most vulnerable to these dangerous laws are servicewomen and military families, who have no choice over where they are stationed and what state laws may govern women’s bodies. That’s why it is paramount that Congress act to enshrine current Department of Defense policy to protect servicewomen and military families and provide them necessary leave for reproductive health care services,” said Senator Shaheen. “It’s shameful that Republicans have pushed Congress to this point – that we need to safeguard paid leave so military personnel and their loved ones can seek out the health care they need. The attacks on women waged by Republicans are putting women’s lives at risk, and in this case, also compromising military readiness. Servicewomen should not be put in this position in the first place. I’ll do everything I can to mitigate the impact they may feel from these extreme policies and ensure their health and safety comes first.” 

Specifically, this bill would: 

  • Allow service members to access non-covered reproductive health care through an administrative absence, to prevent loss of accrued leave and with full pay;
  • Allow a service member to accompany a spouse or dependent who receives non-covered reproductive health care through an administrative absence;
  • Provide a service member, or their dependent, access to travel and transportation allowances to receive non-covered reproductive health care (this does not include payment for the reproductive care services); and
  • Ensure the protection of the privacy of the service member requesting administrative absence in order to access or accompany a spouse or dependent accessing non-covered reproductive health care.

In addition to Heinrich, Shaheen’s bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Hirono (D-Hawaii), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Fetterman (D-Pa.), Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), King (I-Maine), Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Cardin (D-Md.), Warren (D-Mass.), Baldwin (D-Wis.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Welch (D-Vt.), Wyden (D-Ore.), Sanders (I-Vt.), Carper (D-Del.), Murray (D-Wash.), Booker (D-N.J.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Kelly (D-Ariz.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brown (D-Ohio), Rosen (D-Nev.), Markey (D-Mass.) and Durbin (D-Ill.). 

The Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Health Care Act is endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Women’s Law Center, VoteVets, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Service Women’s Action Network, Vet Voice Foundation, Power to Decide, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Bill text of the legislation is available here