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Reproductive Health: Covered Abortions

Covered Abortions

Q1:

When does the DOD provide abortion services? Who can receive those services?

A:

The DOD can perform or pay for abortion services for Service members, dependents, or other eligible DOD beneficiaries in certain circumstances. Consistent with federal law, this care is provided in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered should the fetus be carried to term, or in the case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest (described within DOD as “covered abortions”). Federal law prohibits the DOD from performing, or paying for the performance of, abortions for any other reason.

Q2:

What kinds of abortions can the Military Health System perform?

A:

The Military Health System (MHS) has the capability to perform both medical abortions (which are performed with medication) and surgical abortions, in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or in the case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

Q3:

Will TRICARE continue to provide coverage for abortion services in the case of rape, incest or when the life of the mother would be endangered? What if state law restricts my ability to receive an abortion?

A:

Yes, TRICARE will continue to pay for abortions for Service members, dependents, or other eligible DOD beneficiaries in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered should the fetus be carried to term or in the case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest (described as “covered abortions”). Private sector health care facilities are subject to the laws of the state where the care is provided. When state law restricts certain types of care, that care may no longer be available through private sector health care facilities in the local area.

However, military medical treatment facilities are still authorized to provide covered abortions, even when state laws restrict such care. When not available in the private sector, Service members and eligible beneficiaries may access care at a local military medical treatment facility or travel to the closest military medical treatment facility with the necessary capability. The following question outlines current processes for accessing covered care not available locally for beneficiaries. Beneficiaries seeking assistance with access to a covered abortion can contact https://health.mil/ContactUs, for assistance.


Q4:

When a covered abortion is not available in the local area, does DDD provide travel and transportation allowances for a Service member or other health care beneficiary to receive a covered abortion? What is the process for requesting these allowances?

A:

For a covered abortion, DOD provides the following travel and transportation allowances:

  • Active Duty: Active Duty Service members (including Reserve Component Service members on Active Duty orders for a period greater than 30 days) who require authorized medically necessary care that is not available in their local area, including covered abortions, will be authorized to travel at government expense to receive the care. The Service member would need to provide their command with documentation from their medical provider indicating the need to travel for a necessary medical procedure. A description of the medical procedure would be contained in the individual’s medical records. The Service member would not be required to take leave for the travel.
  • Other Beneficiaries:
    • TRICARE Prime: For non-Active Duty patients enrolled in TRICARE Prime, if the closest available care is more than 100 miles away from their primary care manager’s office, TRICARE may reimburse reasonable travel expenses for covered abortions in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.
    • TRICARE Select: For non-Active Duty patients enrolled in TRICARE Select, a referral will be made but there is no associated reimbursement for travel costs.
  • Dependent Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS): Dependents accompanying Active Duty Service members (including Reserve Component members on Active Duty orders for a period greater than 30 days) stationed outside the Continental United States may be paid travel and transportation allowances to the nearest medical facility where a covered abortion could be performed. A written statement from a DOD medical authority must support the need for travel confirming both the seriousness of the condition and the absence of adequate military and civilian facilities for proper treatment.

Q5:

What is the process that a Service member, dependent, or other beneficiary would use to seek covered abortion services?

A:

DOD performs or pays for abortions for Service members, dependents, or other eligible DOD beneficiaries in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered should the fetus be carried to term or where the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest (described as “covered abortions”). An eligible beneficiary can request a covered abortion from a MTF provider.

Patients may seek assistance from a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate (SAPR VA) or the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) who can connect them with the appropriate health care provider. They may also seek assistance through their primary care manager (PCM), a women’s health provider, or at an emergency room. MTFs either have providers who perform abortion services or have the ability to refer patients to an appropriate provider in the private sector or at another MTF.


Q6:

What other care does DOD provide when a Service member, dependent, or other beneficiary receives a covered abortion?

A:

Complete care generally includes an initial diagnosis of pregnancy, counseling regarding pregnancy options, any necessary pre-procedural evaluation, peri-operative care (care provided around the time of a surgical procedure), contraception counseling and provision, screening for sexually transmitted infections, referral for mental health services, and follow-up/post-operative care as required. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) or the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) are notified by a DOD medical provider at an MTF if a patient informs the provider that the patient is a victim of a sexual assault so that the SARC or FAP can inform the victim of services and reporting options. There is no requirement that the health care provider inform the SARC or FAP that the patient requested an abortion. Health care provider communications to a SARC or FAP are confidential. As a result, if the patient has made, or desires to make, a Restricted Report, that option is not affected by health care provider notifications to a SARC or FAP.

Q7:

Will DoD continue to provide care for ectopic or molar pregnancies, including termination of the pregnancy?

A:

Yes. DOD will continue to provide necessary medical services to treat ectopic or molar pregnancies. DOD providers at MTFs will continue to provide services as part of their federal duties if medically appropriate, even if those services are restricted or prohibited by state law.

Q8:

If a Service member and accompanying family members are stationed at an overseas location where abortion is legal, will TRICARE coverage extend to an abortion performed by a network provider?

A:

Yes, but only in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered should the fetus be carried to term, or in the case in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest (described as “covered abortions”). There has been no change in policy or practice related to provision of abortions overseas.

Last Updated: January 30, 2024
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