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Reproductive Health: Considerations for Medical Providers

Considerations for Medical Providers


What resources are available to health care providers concerned about performing covered abortions at my military medical treatment facility because my current license is in a state with restrictive state laws?


Military and civilian health care providers working in military medical treatment facilities may request reimbursement to receive an alternate license when their current license is in a state where the provision of federally authorized health care is restricted.


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?


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, in cases where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.) 


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


Consistent with DOD Instruction 6025.27, “Medical Ethics in the Military Health System,” Nov. 8, 2017, providers who, as a matter of conscience or moral principle, do not wish to perform abortions are generally not required to do so.


If a Service Member, dependent, or beneficiary accesses abortion services outside of the military health system and requires follow-up care, can they access care through DOD?


Yes. Eligible DOD beneficiaries are encouraged to follow-up with their primary care manager or Women’s Health Provider following a pregnancy termination to obtain necessary follow-up care, to include convalescent leave (as indicated) or provision of contraception. This follow-up care is available regardless of whether the abortion service was a covered or non-covered procedure. Additionally, if a patient comes to a MTF with acute complications following a pregnancy termination, it is the duty of the receiving provider to care for these acute issues. By regulation, Active Duty Service members who experience complications resulting from a non- covered treatment also may be authorized for treatment in the private sector if necessary, consistent with applicable law.


What information does a patient need to provide, if seeking a covered abortion due to a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault or incest?


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. 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 DOD Instruction 6310.09 “Health Care Management for Patients Associated With a Sexual Assault,” May 7, 2019, or advised by MTF legal counsel.

Last Updated: February 27, 2024
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