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Reproductive Health: Leave and Travel

Leave and Travel

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Reproductive Health Q&A
Q1:

May DOD civilian employees take leave to travel for abortion services?

A:

Yes. Consistent with existing policy, civilian employees are eligible for both paid and unpaid leave to obtain medical treatment. Additional information is available on the Office of Personnel Management website.

Q2:

When a covered abortion is not available in the local area, does DOD 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 (where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest), DOD provides the following travel and transportation allowances:

Active Duty - Active Duty Service members (including Reserve Component Service members on Active Duty 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.

Q3:

May a Service member on Active Duty be granted regular leave or special liberty to receive a covered abortion?

A:

Service members on Active Duty are not required to use regular leave or special liberty to receive a covered abortion (a “covered abortion” is one DOD is authorized to perform under federal law, which restricts the Department from performing abortions or paying to have them performed unless the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest).  A Service member does not need to be in a leave or liberty status in order to receive a covered abortion.  

Following a covered abortion, and upon discharge from the treating medical facility, if applicable, Service members on active duty may be given convalescent leave for the number of days necessary for their recovery, based on a recommendation of a medical provider and with the approval of either the MTF Director or the Service member’s unit commander (or other designated leave approval authority).  


 

Q4:

May a Service member on active duty be granted regular leave or special liberty to receive a non-covered abortion?

A:

Yes, Service members on Active Duty may be granted leave or special liberty in order to receive a non-covered abortion.  Special liberty, however, would be limited to no more than 4 days.

Following a non-covered abortion, and after having been in contact with a DOD medical care provider, Service members on Active Duty may be given convalescent leave for the number of days necessary for their recovery, based on a recommendation of a DOD medical provider, and with the approval of either the applicable MTF Director or the Service member’s unit commander (or other designated leave approval authority).  If, following a non-covered abortion, a Service member on Active Duty has not been in contact with a DOD medical provider, in lieu of convalescent leave, the member may be granted regular leave, or up to four days of special liberty, for recovery from the procedure.

Q5:

What is the process by which a Service member can request leave or special liberty to receive a non-covered abortion?

A:

Service members on Active Duty requesting regular leave or special liberty to receive a non-covered abortion would use their Military Service’s normal procedures to request the leave or liberty.  

Q6:

Do Service members have to disclose to their unit commanders (or designated leave approval authority) that they are requesting regular leave or special liberty for the purpose of receiving a non-covered abortion?

A:

DOD-level leave and liberty policies do not require Service members to share the specific reason they are requesting regular leave or special liberty.  

However, inherent in the authority and responsibilities conferred upon a unit commander is the commander’s discretionary authority to grant or deny leave or special liberty. In exercising their discretion, unit commanders are expected to consider the health and welfare, morale, and needs of individual Service members requesting leave (or special liberty), as well as the commander’s responsibilities in maintaining the readiness and good order and discipline of his or her unit.  Thus, Service members may be required to disclose the minimum amount of information necessary regarding the purpose of the requested regular leave or special liberty to allow the unit commander to make an informed decision on whether to grant the leave or special liberty.

Last Updated: August 16, 2022

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