Reproductive health access for women in the US military
Servicewomen play an integral role in the US military, but face unique challenges when it comes to accessing contraception and abortion services, especially during deployment when these services may be limited. Furthermore, policies prohibiting or discouraging sexual activity may prevent women from seeking the care to which they are entitled. Additionally, federal law prohibits the provision and coverage of abortion services in the military except in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest.
Since 2010, Ibis has developed a body of work to investigate the reproductive health needs and experiences of servicewomen. Some of our past work has included the first study of US military women’s experiences seeking abortion care during overseas deployment; a systematic literature review on contraceptive use, unintended pregnancy, and abortion in the military; an online survey and in-depth interviews with servicewomen exploring their experiences accessing and using contraception and other reproductive health services during deployment and identifying potential solutions for increased access to care; and documenting unintended pregnancy rates among active-duty women. We also explored the role that telemedicine could play in abortion provision in the military, and performed a review of military insurance coverage of women’s and men’s sexual and reproductive health services through TRICARE, the insurance program for military members and their dependents, compared to a nationwide health plan for civilian federal employees. (See Policy Briefs below.)