Tuberville Showed Courage in Facing Down Pentagon Abortionists Despite Little Help From the GOP

Senator Thomas Tuberville (R-Ala.) just announced a suspension of his one-man campaign against the Defense Department’s abortion subsidy program. In a rare reversal of the norm for Republican congressman used to taking orders from the Deep State’s three-letter agencies, Tuberville single-handedly reminded the grandaddy-of-them-all of its constitutional master. 

In response to the DoD’s lavishing incentives on pregnant soldiers to abort their babies, the senator put a hold on promotions for military generals and flag officers. Even setting aside the virtues of standing firm against abortion, generals, like judges, have become instruments of leftist political influence and need to be reminded of their place in the constitutional order. Delay slows the “wokening” of our military. If only it could have lasted another 13 months. 

Approximately one year ago, Tuberville wrote Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to demand a briefing from the Pentagon regarding its new abortion policy. Tuberville noted that the policy ran counter to U.S. code making it illegal for the Pentagon to use taxpayer funds to “perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in a case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.” These restrictions kept military abortions rare, roughly 20 per year according to Tuberville’s office. Tuberville projected that the Defense Department’s new abortion policies and subsidies could increase soldier abortions by “as much as 4,100 per year.” The Pentagon disputes Tuberville’s estimate.

Tuberville concluded his letter with this explicit warning: “Lastly, it is my conviction that this proposed policy change is illegal, circumvents Congress, and exceeds your authority. Should you implement these proposed changes to the department’s abortion policies, I will place a hold on all future DoD civilian and general/flag officer nominations.” 

Under the Defense Department’s policy in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, it will pay a pregnant service member (or a servicemember’s authorized dependent) “travel and transportation allowances,” including the “actual cost of lodging,” the “actual cost of meals,” “round trip transportation,” plus the cost of travel for one or more escorts. On top of that, the military offers 21 days of paid administrative leave for the service member receiving the abortion or a service member acting as an escort to somebody receiving an abortion. 

It costs a lot when a pregnant soldier decides to give birth to a new American baby. Under a Biden-era Army directive, new mothers (“soldiers who give birth” in the Army’s politically correct, nonbinary terminology) receive an optional 365-deferment which may be extended for as long as the mother continues to lactate. And that’s before the medical costs. Thus, the military has reason to coax its pregnant soldiers to just get rid of it so they can keep working. 

Cynical bean counters in the Pentagon can do math. Why not encourage soldiers to take the easy way out? “Pregnant soldiers” open to unburdening the military are eligible for the military’s generous abortion incentive package. 

Under normal circumstances, the voice of a single senator would be inconsequential to the mighty Defense Department. The Senate, however, had slipped into a practice of approving general and flag officer promotions in large batches through “unanimous consent.” It’s expedient but it only works with the literal unanimous consent of every single senator. The Senate can easily override an objecting senator by formally voting on the promotion, but Tuberville had been holding out. 

After months of tolerating Tuberville’s disobedience, the Pentagon finally exerted its enormous leverage in retaliation. It announced it would cancel the Trump-era decision to site the United States Space Command headquarters in Tuberville’s home state of Alabama. While the military claimed “readiness” motivated the relocation, even sympathizers in The New York Times recognized the decision as payback for Tuberville’s promotion holds. 

Unfortunately, Tuberville received precious little support from his supposedly “pro-life” Republican colleagues. The backlog of unconfirmed promotions has now grown to 450 high-level officers. Republicans have taken to bypassing Tuberville’s objections with individual floor votes. But this has proven too tedious for the Senate. Republicans and Democrats have begun discussing a one-time suspension of the rules to resume the pro forma approvals. A Tuberville staffer then floated the idea of primary challenges to any Republican who signed on to this plan. 

While the Pentagon balks at the cost of pregnant soldiers giving birth, it has nevertheless found money to pay for hormones and “gender reassignment” surgery for soldiers, because “inclusivity … enhances overall readiness.” 

Tuberville’s campaign delayed the promotion of military officers considered “woke” by some critics. The Daily Signal recently identified by name some of these woke promotions. For example, it identified Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider as commander of Pacific Forces who “said he wanted DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] to be part of the Air Force’s DNA.” It also called out Brig. Gen. Elizabeth Arledge who tweeted about the problem of “whiteness.” It’s difficult to see how encouraging racial conflict, as DEI always does, improves readiness. 

While Tuberville failed in his effort to curtail the abortion subsidies, his willingness to stand in opposition against long odds should serve as an example of the way the courage of one senator can have some effect in slowing the deep state juggernaut. If only others shared his courage and conviction, perhaps it might finally be beaten. 

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