Pentagon ends blocking of abortion-related sites on computer networks

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The Pentagon has quietly lifted a longstanding ban that prevented troops and civilians from searching for abortion-linked phrases on the department’s laptop networks, a move that follows the Supreme Court’s landmark selection to overturn Roe v. Wade last month.

The department had banned abortion-connected content, as well as other topics, under a plan dating to 2010, “to optimize available bandwidth for mission uses,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman said in an email Tuesday to Armed forces Instances.

This kind of a sea modify to what the department’s additional than 3 million people can obtain on their computers came after POLITICO claimed on Could 3 that the courtroom was slated to overturn Roe, but ahead of the opinion was launched on June 24.

“We decided in early June that we must completely allow for written content categorized as abortion (to be available on DOD networks) based on the health care features linked to the classification,” Gorman said. He included that the office frequently evaluates written content categories that are blocked on division networks.

Armed service Occasions commenced asking about the coverage past thirty day period soon after a armed service officer mentioned he had tried to entry the non-profit Prepared Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Preference The us web-sites on his federal government laptop or computer to get information and facts for his troops and been given a blocked notification.

Gorman did not give solutions to comply with-up inquiries.

The department’s main information officer, John Sherman, “directed that material linked to access to abortion expert services be unblocked and this change is at this time underway throughout DOD organizations,” Gorman additional. “Additionally, DoD CIO is examining the whole coverage regrading online obtain to several web-sites and subjects similar to health care accessibility and other troubles for acceptable updates.”

Officials did not reply to requests for remark with regards to the date of the policy modify or other banned types.

The officer who requested anonymity instructed Military Times he was blocked from accessing Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Alternative The united states sites as he sought information for his troops pertaining to bans on abortions immediately after 6 weeks.

“I guess deployed (troops) or individuals with no accessibility to personalized internet are not able to be educated,” he mentioned.

The officer explained he was “stunned” when the internet sites came up blocked, and that his troops have issues about what the overturning of Roe v. Wade will necessarily mean, “especially those people who have been beforehand stationed in Mississippi.”

Mississippi lawmakers handed a regulation banning most abortions and the point out is household to at the very least six armed service bases.

The officer and other navy resources who Googled “abortion” on their work desktops for Military services Periods documented past week that some web sites have been not blocked. Even so, the officer explained that not remaining capable to entry Prepared Parenthood or NARAL Professional-Preference America gave him pause.

“All the DoD officials stated they were going to do all they can to ensure we experienced the data we essential with the new ruling and legislation,” the officer said.

Gorman explained in a abide by-up statement to Military services Occasions that the department is doing the job its way “through all DOD networks now to make certain that restriction is lifted uniformly.”

As the Pentagon seeks to protects its uniformed and civilian workforce from prosecution next the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the officer claimed he is hearing issues from his troops however.

“They may possibly be stationed in these states that do not allow for abortions, and that they will have to request COs for authorization, spend for vacation, just take their confined leave, and be judged close to the command,” the officer said. “And then even from men who are frightened for their daughters and wives currently being forced to shift with them to destinations like Texas.”

A friend’s wife, the officer mentioned, “is terrified” of having stationed exactly where she will not have accessibility to companies, these kinds of as Planned Parenthood.

DOD’s lifting of abortion queries on its networks will come as the Pentagon scrambles to parse out what the overturning of Roe implies for troops and people.

And whilst the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Overall health Group that overturned the Roe precedent does not transform anything at all about legalities of getting an abortion coated by military health coverage, it does elevate concerns about their availability and the extra hard work that securing legal abortions may possibly entail.

“I am committed to using care of our folks and making certain the readiness and resilience of our drive,” Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin stated in a assertion on June 24, the day Roe was overturned. “The Office is inspecting this selection closely and assessing our policies to assure we continue on to supply seamless access to reproductive well being treatment as permitted by federal regulation.”

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Armed forces Occasions, concentrating on the Navy. He protected Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most not too long ago a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all sorts of ideas at [email protected]

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