USA: Senator blocks personnel in the US military because of abortions

United States Armed Forces
Republican senator blocks key military personnel in dispute over abortion

Strict anti-abortion opponent: Tommy Tuberville, US Senator

© Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The bitter controversy over abortion rights in the US is spreading widely – and is now even occupying the US Marine Corps and the Pentagon.

A senator’s stance on abortion rights could become a bigger problem for the become US military. Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville is blocking confirmation of key personnel within the Army. The reason: He refuses to allow the Pentagon to fund the costs of further trips to abortion clinics for members of the armed forces.

Yesterday, the commander of the United States Marine Corps was rotated out. His successor and previous deputy, Eric Smith, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate, which is why he is now only acting on an acting basis. Delaying his promotion is one of potentially many senior military promotions that Tuberville could block.

US Senate must approve important personal details

The Senate is of particular importance in the political power structure of the USA. Important personal data at the federal level must be confirmed by the parliamentary chamber. Tuberville’s behavior affects the “readiness of our armed forces,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh. This is particularly problematic “at a time when our nation faces growing (…) threats around the world, from Russia and Ukraine to the growing challenge of China.”

It is now the first time in more than 150 years that the Marine Corps has been led by someone who has not been confirmed by the Senate, according to the Pentagon. As acting commander, Smith has fewer powers. Tuberville made it clear on Monday that he was not concerned.

The reason for this is that the US Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion a good year ago. Since then, abortions have been banned in a number of US states or only permitted with significant restrictions. Therefore, if an abortion requires travel to another state, the Pentagon covers the costs. Senator Tuberville is bothered by this approach.

The confirmation of the new Chief of Staff of the US Armed Forces is now on the agenda of the Senate. President Joe Biden nominated Charles Brown in May. The current Chief of Staff, Mark Milley, is leaving his post in September.


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