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Overturning of Roe has 'significant implications' for Defense Department, but won't affect health care access for covered abortions

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The decision will affect the readiness of the force, as well as having an effect on service members, their families, and Defense Department civilians, Gilbert Cisneros, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in a memo.

Cisneros said the military health care network would continue to perform covered abortions. Covered abortions are those in which the life of the mother is in danger if the fetus were carried to term or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

"There will be no interruption to this care," Cisneros wrote. Health care providers will follow existing Defense Department policy, and military medical facilities will take steps to ensure continued access to care.

It is unclear what steps will need to be taken, particularly in states with laws that prevent abortions in cases otherwise authorized for Defense Department facilities.

The Supreme Court's decision will also not affect the Defense Department's leave policies, Cisneros said.

Active-duty service members are still allowed to travel to receive abortion care, either for a covered abortion paid for by the government or as part of the service member's personal leave. Defense Department civilian employees may use sick leave and other forms of leave to meet their medical needs as well.

"Sick leave may be used to cover travel that is necessary to obtain any type of medical treatment," Cisneros said in the memo.

Promising more guidance if necessary, Cisneros said, "The implications of the Supreme Court's decision are complicated and must be evaluated against various state laws, together with the views of the Department of Justice."

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