Retired Military Service Secretaries, General Officers, Vet Voice Foundation File Landmark Argument In Supreme Court Case On Abortion

In FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, national security and military experts argue for the first time in front of the Supreme Court that abortion access is critical to recruiting and maintaining a ready force

WASHINGTON, DC – In a first-of-its-kind argument in front of the Supreme Court, retired national security and military leaders are filing an amicus brief urging the Court – on national security grounds – to reject a lower court’s ruling that would severely limit access to mifepristone, which is used for medication abortions.

The full amicus brief can be viewed here:

In the brief, the amici curiae make three key points.

In the first point, the amici write, “that military readiness—the capacity of our military forces to be ready to deploy globally, fight, and fulfill their combat and other missions—is a critical element of national security.” Further, they lay out the case that the ability to maintain that readiness is already in danger. They argue,  “The military encourages women to join by presenting them the opportunity to serve their country, develop themselves mentally and physically, and gain life and professional experience. But it can only be successful in that effort if the life and professional experience it offers is one that is attractive to female recruits.”

The second point, they argue, is “that the availability of reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, is critical to encouraging female servicemembers to join and remain in the military, and in turn, critical to military readiness.” They continue, “Women are unlikely to select a career that may deny them bodily autonomy or access to healthcare during or after their service.”

Thirdly, the amici write, “Mifepristone has provided military women and veterans a safe, effective, and more accessible means of obtaining abortion care. Returning to the pre-2016 conditions for accessing mifepristone would eliminate this critical alternative pathway to abortion care, thus eroding the military’s ability to ensure women access to comprehensive healthcare during and after their service. That threatens the military’s ability to recruit and retain women and, in turn, military readiness. Put simply, lack of access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, and the real prospect of being forced to take unwanted or unsafe pregnancies to term, only makes the military less attractive to today’s recruitment-age females.”

They close by urging the Court to recognize that maintaining access to mifepristone for members of the military is “more than a matter of principle. It’s a matter of national security.”

The brief is being submitted by the non-partisan Vet Voice Foundation along with:

  • The Honorable Louis Caldera, former Secretary of the Army and Director of the White House Military Office;
  • The Honorable Ray Mabus, former Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Mississippi, and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia;
  • The Honorable Deborah James, former Secretary of the Air Force and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs;
  • Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Claudia Kennedy, the first female 3-star General in the Army and former Chairwoman of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services;
  • Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Tammy Smith, the former Deputy Commanding General for Sustainment, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea and the former Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower and Reserve Affairs;
  • Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Paul Eaton, the former Commanding General, Army Infantry Center and School and Commanding General of the command charged with reestablishing Iraqi Security Forces;
  • Rear Admiral (LH) (Ret.) Michael Baker, M.D., F.A.C.S., a semi-retired general and trauma surgeon who served in the Medical Corps, U.S. Navy;
  • Brig. Gen. (Ret.), Robin Umburg, former Chief, Health Care professionals, 3rd Medical Command, U.S. Army, Nurse Corps.
  • Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Steven Anderson, former Director, Operations and Logistics Readiness for the U.S. Army;
  • Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Marshall Williams, former Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs; and,
  • David Callaway, M.D., a former Lt. Commander of the U.S. Navy and E.R. physician, now serving as Chief Medical Officer for a veteran-led disaster response organization.