Under current policy, a servicewoman seeking an abortion can ask permission from her commanding officer to travel to the United States for the procedure, or use services provided in the host country. Abortion is illegal in many of the nations where U.S. troops are stationed.

However, abortions are performed at military facilities if the mother’s life would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term. They also are permitted at overseas facilities in cases of rape or incest, but the government will not pay for them.

Roughly 100,000 women are stationed overseas.

Between 1979 and 1988, the Defense Department permitted privately funded abortions at overseas military hospitals and clinics. In 1988, President Reagan stopped the practice. In 1993, President Clinton reversed the ban. In 1995, Congress reinstated it and it remains policy today.

Tricare, the independent agency contracted to provide managed health care services and benefits to military and federal civilian personnel and their dependents, follows the Defense Department’s policy and generally lets a woman obtain an abortion only when a physician certifies that the life of the mother would be endangered were the fetus carried to term.

According to the Health Affairs staff, a DOD spokesman told Stars and Stripes via e-mail, the policy would be unchanged or unaffected by the new law.

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