New Army policies increase access to Soldier, Family reproductive health care

By Lt. Col. Joseph PaytonFebruary 27, 2023

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WASHINGTON – The Army published policies increasing privacy and access to reproductive health care for Soldiers and Army Family members.

The policies, which derive from the recently published Department of Defense memos, establish new standards for pregnancy notifications to commanders and requesting administrative absences and funded travel for non-covered reproductive health care.

“Reproductive health care decisions are extremely important and personal,” said Dr. Agnes Schaefer, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). “The Army knows this policy updates is necessary to give our Soldiers and Families the flexibility and support to control their health and well-being.”

Soldiers can now delay notifying their command of a pregnancy until the 20th week of gestation, except when there is a direct to impact to their duty, safety, or when participating in a pre-deployment health screening.

Other policies include allowing Soldiers to request an authorized absence of up to 21 days without being charged leave and a travel allowance to facilitate access to non-covered reproductive health care.

The absence and funded travel can be related to non-covered care for the Soldier or their dependent.

“Soldiers and their Families make great sacrifices to serve our nation,” said Schaefer. “We want to make sure that Soldiers have the same health care options regardless of where they’re serving.”

Soldiers and their Families do not have any financial costs associated with a covered abortion.

A covered abortion is an abortion, either medical or surgical, where the life of the birthing parent would be endangered, if the fetus were carried to term or in a case when the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.

Non-covered reproductive health care is defined as lawfully available assisted reproductive technology (ART) (e.g., ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization) and non-covered abortion.

For non-covered reproductive health care, the Army will authorize non-chargeable leave and pay travel expenses and meals, but the Soldier is responsible for the cost of the non-covered reproductive health care services.