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Reproductive Health: Medical Providers

Medical Providers

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Reproductive Health Q&A
Q1:

What religious protections are there for providers who do not wish to perform an abortion?

A:

Consistent with DOD Instruction 6025.27, “Medical Ethics in the Military Health System,” Nov. 8, 2018, providers who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, do not wish to perform abortion are not required to do so, unless it is necessary to prevent endangering the life of the mother.

Q2:

In the event that a state passed a law restricting providers from performing abortions, would DOD health care providers still be able to perform abortions in an MTF?

A:

Yes. DOD providers may continue to provide covered abortion services as part of their Federal duties if medically appropriate, even if those services are prohibited by state law or licensing requirements. (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.) DOD providers must be allowed to carry out their duties free from the threat of liability, and DOD has worked to ensure access to counsel for civilian employees and Service members who perform their duties in a manner authorized by federal law.

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.

Q3:

What information does a patient need to provide, if seeking abortion care due to a sexual assault or incest?

A:

DOD providers must have a "good faith" belief that the patient is a victim of rape or incest to perform the abortion. Service members are not required to make a formal report or engage with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program or Family Advocacy Program (FAP) to be eligible for an abortion, although providers are still required to notify the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or FAP that they are treating a patient who reports they are a victim of sexual assault, so that the SARC or FAP can inform the victim of services and reporting options. FAP clinicians are required to report suspected child abuse/child sexual abuse directly to local civilian child welfare services. There is no requirement that the health care provider inform the SARC or FAP that the patient requested an abortion. DOD providers should engage MTF legal counsel and MTF leadership, as well as subject matter experts within SAPR Program or FAP, if there are concerns about making a "good faith" belief determination. However, providers must not attempt to gain information from other sources in making their good faith determination (other than a consultation with SMEs as noted above) or compromise an adult patient's reporting options by notifying the chain of command, or law enforcement, unless otherwise indicated in DODI 6310.09 or advised by MTF legal counsel.

Last Updated: August 16, 2022

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