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After Dobbs Decision, Department of Defense Provides Q&A Resource

Image of Images of female service members. The Military Health System provides comprehensive women’s health care, including reproductive health care and gender-specific care associated with cardiovascular health, mental health, and musculoskeletal injuries. Our goal is to ensure the health of all women at every stage of life. (Photo: Courtesy Fort Drum Public Affairs)

(Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published on August 12, 2022, on the official website of the Department of Defense. It is repurposed here, with minor edits, to benefit our readers. The Military Health System offers comprehensive health care services, including contraception and reproductive health care, either through a military hospital or clinic or through the TRICARE Health Plan network. Health.mil maintains a resource page that provides information and links to an array of women's health preventive and treatment services. Additional resources are noted below.).

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision protecting abortion rights, service members and families were left uncertain about their access to reproductive health care.

Recognizing that the defense community continues to have questions about available services, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness published a Q&A that includes answers to questions around reproductive health care access — including leave and travel, sexual assault, contraceptives and other types of related assistance.

DOD shared the Q&A on TRICARE, the health care program for uniformed service members, retirees, and their families around the world; and Health.mil, the Military Health System website. Both sites offer additional information and resources for women's health care within the DOD community.

The Q&A represents part of the department's efforts to take care of service members, DOD civilians and their families, and to ensure military readiness.

"Nothing is more important to me or to this department than the health and well-being of our service members, the civilian workforce and DOD families," said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III in a message to the force after the Dobbs decision.

"I am committed to taking care of our people and ensuring the readiness and resilience of our force. The department is examining this decision closely and evaluating our policies to ensure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care as permitted by federal law."

Resources

For more information on the variety of health services available to female service members and families, the Military Health System offers a comprehensive array of resources, fact sheets, apps, and other online information: 

  • The Army Women’s Health Portal is designed to provide service members, leaders, and family members health-related information tailored to meet the unique needs of our female service members. 
  • The Navy and Marine Corps Women’s Health and Readiness site provides female warfighters information on health, fitness, and wellbeing to optimize mission readiness.
  • The Health.mil Women's Health site provides female service members, operational leaders, and providers with the resources to learn how to increase female force readiness, resiliency, and deployment readiness. 
  • Released early in 2022, the Deployment Readiness Education for Service women app gives service women a one-stop resource for some of the most common questions and concerns before, during, and after deployment.
  • The Decide + Be Ready app provides an interactive way for service members to learn about birth control options and help think through what is important to them about the method they choose. 

Related Publication: Memorandum: Ensuring Access to Essential Women's Health Care Services for Service Members, Dependents, Beneficiaries, and Department of Defense Civilian Employees

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