October 2, 2023


Digitally first class

Pentagon ends blocking of abortion-related sites on computer networks


The Pentagon has quietly lifted a longstanding ban that prevented troops and civilians from hunting for abortion-associated phrases on the department’s laptop or computer networks, a move that follows the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade previous month.

The section experienced banned abortion-related information, as properly as other matters, under a coverage courting to 2010, “to increase obtainable bandwidth for mission purposes,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman claimed in an e mail Tuesday to Military services Periods.

Such a sea change to what the department’s extra than 3 million users can access on their desktops came right after POLITICO documented on May well 3 that the court docket was slated to overturn Roe, but before the belief was produced on June 24.

“We identified in early June that we need to unquestionably allow for written content classified as abortion (to be accessible on DOD networks) based mostly on the healthcare areas connected to the classification,” Gorman said. He added that the department regularly evaluates content classes that are blocked on division networks.

Military Periods commenced inquiring about the policy previous month soon after a army officer said he experienced tried out to access the non-income Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice The us internet sites on his govt pc to get facts for his troops and acquired a blocked notification.

Gorman did not offer responses to adhere to-up inquiries.

The department’s chief details officer, John Sherman, “directed that written content related to accessibility to abortion expert services be unblocked and this transform is at this time underway throughout DOD organizations,” Gorman included. “Additionally, DoD CIO is reviewing the overall policy regrading online entry to a variety of internet sites and subjects associated to healthcare access and other troubles for proper updates.”

Officials did not react to requests for comment pertaining to the date of the coverage improve or other banned types.

The officer who asked for anonymity instructed Military services Instances he was blocked from accessing Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Selection The us web-sites as he sought data for his troops concerning bans on abortions after six weeks.

“I guess deployed (troops) or these devoid of entry to particular web are not capable to be knowledgeable,” he said.

The officer reported he was “stunned” when the web sites arrived up blocked, and that his troops have queries about what the overturning of Roe v. Wade will suggest, “especially individuals who have been previously stationed in Mississippi.”

Mississippi lawmakers handed a law banning most abortions and the point out is household to at minimum 6 military services bases.

The officer and other armed forces resources who Googled “abortion” on their function computer systems for Armed service Occasions documented past 7 days that some sites have been not blocked. Having said that, the officer explained that not remaining in a position to access Planned Parenthood or NARAL Professional-Selection The united states gave him pause.

“All the DoD officials said they had been going to do all they can to be certain we experienced the details we necessary with the new ruling and rules,” the officer reported.

Gorman said in a follow-up assertion to Army Situations that the department is operating its way “through all DOD networks now to assure that restriction is lifted uniformly.”

As the Pentagon seeks to shields its uniformed and civilian workforce from prosecution subsequent the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the officer stated he is hearing problems from his troops nevertheless.

“They might be stationed in these states that really don’t allow for abortions, and that they will have to check with COs for permission, pay out for vacation, get their restricted depart, and be judged all-around the command,” the officer said. “And then even from guys who are scared for their daughters and wives getting forced to go with them to areas like Texas.”

A friend’s spouse, the officer claimed, “is terrified” of having stationed in which she won’t have obtain to services, this sort of as Planned Parenthood.

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

And while the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health and fitness Organization that overturned the Roe precedent doesn’t change just about anything concerning legalities of getting an abortion lined by navy well being insurance policies, it does raise concerns about their availability and the additional effort and hard work that securing authorized abortions may entail.

“I am committed to using care of our people today and making sure the readiness and resilience of our pressure,” Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin explained in a assertion on June 24, the day Roe was overturned. “The Section is analyzing this selection intently and evaluating our policies to assure we continue to provide seamless access to reproductive wellbeing care as permitted by federal legislation.”

Geoff is a senior personnel reporter for Military services Occasions, concentrating on the Navy. He included Iraq and Afghanistan thoroughly and was most not too long ago a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all varieties of guidelines at [email protected].


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