EXCLUSIVE: Heritage Foundation Sues Pentagon to Learn How Many Abortions It Has Paid For

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FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—The Heritage Foundation is suing the Defense Department for access to information regarding the Pentagon’s funding of abortions.  

Heritage on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon to gain access to records regarding the number of abortions it has paid for. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)  

“It’s hard to [imagine] the Biden administration being more extreme on abortion than they already are,” Roman Jankowski, senior investigative counsel for Heritage’s Oversight Project, told The Daily Signal.  

“Lately, they’ve been trying to circumvent the Hyde Amendment [which prevents the federal funding of abortions], through using DOD funds to pay for abortions,” Jankowski said, adding, “We’re searching for data to prove this is all a scam.”

In July 2022, Heritage’s Oversight Project, an initiative aimed at holding the government accountable to the American people, filed Freedom of Information Act requests, also called “FOIAs,” with the Pentagon and the Defense Health Agency. The Defense Health Agency describes itself as a “joint, integrated Combat Support Agency” helping “the Army, Navy, and Air Force medical services.”

In its request, Heritage asked for “correspondence regarding covered abortions” from Jan. 20, 2021, to July 5, 2022, and all “records regarding the number of covered abortions” from Jan. 1, 2010, through July 5, 2022.”

The “records” requested pertain to any “written, recorded, or graphic” information regarding the financial coverage of abortion. That could be in the form of emails, memos, financial reports, and the like.  

Jankowski says Heritage did not receive the information it requested.  

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“For years, Congress has worked to ensure that taxpayers are not forced to subsidize elective abortions through their tax dollars,” Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. 

Perry added that U.S. law, under 10 USC Sec. 1093, clarifies that “funds available to the Department of Defense may not be used 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.”  

However, the “Department of Defense doesn’t seem to remember this unambiguous prohibition,” Perry said. “Its refusal to respond to our FOIAs on covered abortions seems to indicate DOD has something to hide.” 

The DOD acknowledged that it received the FOIA request, but the Defense Health Agency FOIA office did not, according to Jankowski.  

The law requires federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests within 20 working days, but this response time can be extended due to “unusual circumstances.” The federal government can withhold information requested in a FOIA if it falls under one of nine exceptions, including if the information is “classified” or involves “information that would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”  

“There are exemptions that allow the DOD to withhold private information if it [is] personal, like a medical record,” Jankowski said. “However, we are not asking for personally identifiable information regarding who got an abortion. We are only asking for statistics on abortion in the military.”  

Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in late June 2022 that overturned the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the DOD issued a memorandum on “Reproductive Healthcare.” In the October memo, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin directed the department to “Establish travel and transportation allowances for service members and their dependents … to facilitate official travel to access noncovered reproductive health care that is unavailable within the local area of a service member’s permanent duty station.” 

The Heritage Foundation’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Thursday.

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The post EXCLUSIVE: Heritage Foundation Sues Pentagon to Learn How Many Abortions It Has Paid For appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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