Abortion and gender ideology have once again become a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill, this time in relation to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024.
The NDAA is an annual piece of federal legislation that authorizes the budget and expenditures for the Department of Defense (DOD) and other affiliated agencies. The NDAA serves as the principal mechanism through which Congress exercises its constitutional authority to “raise and support Armies” and “provide and maintain a Navy,” as stipulated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Some of the key components of the legislation in which abortion and gender ideology play a factor are the budget authorization, policy guidelines, and personnel matters. The NDAA specifies how much money can be spent in various categories. Beyond budgetary matters, the NDAA often includes policy provisions that guide the military’s conduct and regulations. The act also frequently addresses issues related to military personnel, such as payment or reimbursement for specific medical procedures.
National Defense Authorization Act Amendments related to abortion and gender ideology
In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that included amendments related to abortion and transgender surgeries. The amendments include the following:
- Prohibits the secretary of Defense from paying for or reimbursing expenses relating to abortion services.
- Undoes the Pentagon’s policy of allowing service members to have access to abortion services.
- Bans the Pentagon from paying for or reimbursing service members for abortion-related expenses.
- Additional restrictions on abortion.
- Prohibits TRICARE from covering and the DOD from furnishing sex-reassignment surgeries and gender hormone treatments for transgender individuals.
- Prohibits provision of gender-transition procedures, including surgery or medication, through the Exceptional Family Member Program.
- Recinds the Pentagon’s policy of allowing service members to have access to gender-transition procedures.
The Senate also passed a version of the bill in July that avoided making any changes to current abortion and gender-identity funding or policies. The two versions of the bill await a formal conference in the fall to reconcile these differences. The amendments on abortion and gender identity aren’t expected to survive the reconciliation process. No Democrat in the Senate supports those amendments, which means they cannot pass in the Senate. Even if they made it into the final bill, though, President Biden would likely veto the bill.
Other cultural issues addressed by House amendments are:
- a prohibition on drag shows and drag queen story hour,
- a prohibition on the display of unapproved flags (such as the LGBTQ+ Pride flag),
- and a requirement that DOD Education Activity schools are prohibited from purchasing and having pornographic and radical gender ideology books in their libraries.
Congress will begin negotiations this month and must complete the final version of the NDAA before the end of the year. In the meantime, the ERLC will continue advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists at every opportunity.
We invite our fellow Southern Baptists to join us in praying for godly wisdom to permeate these negotiations, for lives to be saved through maintaining the current restrictions on abortion, and for opportunities to clearly articulate God’s design for gender and sexuality.