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-associated phrases on the department’s laptop or computer networks, a shift that follows the Supreme Court’s landmark final decision to overturn Roe v. Wade past month.

The department had banned abortion-associated content material, as effectively as other matters, underneath a policy dating to 2010, “to optimize available bandwidth for mission needs,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman reported in an email Tuesday to Navy Instances.

This sort of a sea adjust to what the department’s a lot more than 3 million buyers can accessibility on their personal computers arrived just after POLITICO described on Could 3 that the courtroom was slated to overturn Roe, but before the belief was released on June 24.

“We determined in early June that we really should absolutely allow content categorized as abortion (to be available on DOD networks) based mostly on the healthcare factors relevant to the class,” Gorman mentioned. He additional that the office continually evaluates content material classes that are blocked on office networks.

Navy Situations started asking about the policy last month soon after a army officer said he experienced tried using to accessibility the non-gain Prepared Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Alternative The us internet sites on his governing administration computer to get facts for his troops and obtained a blocked notification.

Gorman did not give responses to follow-up concerns.

The department’s chief information and facts officer, John Sherman, “directed that information associated to access to abortion products and services be unblocked and this adjust is now underway throughout DOD companies,” Gorman additional. “Additionally, DoD CIO is examining the whole policy regrading web obtain to several internet sites and matters linked to health care obtain and other issues for suitable updates.”

Officials did not respond to requests for comment pertaining to the day of the plan transform or other banned classes.

The officer who asked for anonymity told Armed service Times he was blocked from accessing Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Option The united states web sites as he sought information for his troops relating to bans on abortions after six weeks.

“I guess deployed (troops) or individuals with out obtain to individual net are not ready to be educated,” he said.

The officer stated he was “stunned” when the web pages arrived up blocked, and that his troops have questions about what the overturning of Roe v. Wade will suggest, “especially those people who have been formerly stationed in Mississippi.”

Mississippi lawmakers handed a legislation banning most abortions and the point out is residence to at least 6 military bases.

The officer and other navy sources who Googled “abortion” on their function personal computers for Armed service Periods described very last 7 days that some internet sites had been not blocked. Nevertheless, the officer said that not remaining able to entry Prepared Parenthood or NARAL Pro-Option America gave him pause.

“All the DoD officers mentioned they ended up going to do all they can to make certain we had the information we needed with the new ruling and rules,” the officer stated.

Gorman stated in a follow-up assertion to Armed service Moments that the office is doing work its way “through all DOD networks now to guarantee that restriction is lifted uniformly.”

As the Pentagon seeks to guards its uniformed and civilian workers from prosecution pursuing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the officer stated he is listening to fears from his troops nevertheless.

“They could be stationed in these states that do not allow abortions, and that they will have to check with COs for authorization, shell out for vacation, take their limited depart, and be judged close to the command,” the officer stated. “And then even from adult men who are afraid for their daughters and wives becoming forced to move with them to places like Texas.”

A friend’s wife, the officer reported, “is terrified” of finding stationed wherever she will not have entry to services, these as Planned Parenthood.

DOD’s lifting of abortion lookups on its networks comes as the Pentagon scrambles to parse out what the overturning of Roe suggests for troops and people.

And while the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Overall health Corporation that overturned the Roe precedent does not alter something with regards to legalities of getting an abortion coated by armed service wellbeing coverage, it does elevate inquiries about their availability and the included effort and hard work that securing authorized abortions may possibly entail.

“I am committed to getting care of our folks and making certain the readiness and resilience of our force,” Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a assertion on June 24, the day Roe was overturned. “The Section is analyzing this decision carefully and analyzing our policies to assure we carry on to provide seamless obtain to reproductive well being care as permitted by federal legislation.”

Geoff is a senior team reporter for Army Periods, concentrating on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most lately a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all varieties of tips at [email protected]

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