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Female service members face unique challenges if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown
Wikimedia Commons
At any point in their career, the nearly 400,000 women serving the U.S. military could be stationed in a state or country that restricts access to reproductive health care.

Military health insurance has limitations on abortion services. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, service members will face increased challenges to receive an abortion.

Women in the military have unplanned pregnancies at a higher rate than civilian women. Due to the Hyde Amendment, Tricare, the military insurance provider, only covers abortion in cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother's life.

The right to abortion hangs on the balance of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case, a Mississippi suit that could result in abortion rights being left to the states.

Several military installations are located in states that have indicated plans to restrict or outright ban abortion, meaning female service members and military dependents could be forced to travel great lengths to receive health care.

To be permitted immediate leave for care, a service member would likely have to disclose to superiors their reason for travel —which is a privacy concern and could lead to career concerns, according to Up To Date guests Kelly Blanchard and Dr. Erika King.

Dr. Erika King is actively serving as an officer in the U.S. military. She's personally published research on policies and practices impacting servicewomen’s wellness and retention. Her views are not reflective of the Department of Defense.

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