Former Pentagon spokesman John Kirby appeared to suggest on Tuesday that when it came to matters affecting national security, access to abortions was just as important as making sure the right officers were confirmed in the right jobs.
Kirby, who currently serves as Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, made the comments during a press briefing — when asked why, if the Pentagon’s abortion policy was preventing those confirmations from taking place, they didn’t simply reverse the policy in the name of national security.
WATCH: John Kirby gets heated while attempting to argue that affordable abortions are equally important to national security as Pentagon promotions pic.twitter.com/2oqciKDABs
— Dylan Housman (@Dylan_Housman) October 3, 2023
“If the national security is truly at risk, as the administration says, then isn’t keeping that abortion policy in place in effect superseding national security?” one reporter asked.
“How — I’m not sure I understand —” Kirby tried to wrap his head around the underlying question.
“You want to get the nominations through, right?” the reporter clarified. “You take back the policy …”
“Oh, so the suggestion is that we should just turn our backs — no, I get it,” Kirby responded to the reporter’s objection that it was his personal position on the topic. “But the suggestion is we should just turn our backs on one in five of every person in the United States military, let alone their family members, just so we can get these officers confirmed. That’s the suggestion that I think you’re elucidating.”
Kirby went on to complain that not allowing military members and their families access to funds for travel — assuming abortions are not legal where they live or are stationed — would be “an egregious violation of the covenant” made between the U.S. military and those who signed up to serve in its ranks.
“Remember this, they’re volunteers,” Kirby continued. “There’s not conscription, there’s no draft. People volunteer for this. And when they volunteer for that duty, they have every right to expect that they’re going to get the health care they need.”
“A healthy force is a ready force,” he concluded, adding, “So don’t talk to me about national security being impaired. The one impairing national security is Senator Tuberville — not only because he’s depriving the military of necessary leadership in the field and at sea, but he’s also willing to deprive female members of the military, 20% of the force, from necessary health care. That, both, is a violation of national security.”
Tuberville’s block only applies to mass confirmations that can be undertaken by the Senate if there is unanimous consent. His hold forces the Senate to either refuse to take up the promotions entirely or to take them up on an individual basis — which would take longer, but achieve the same result.