Pentagon ensures military servers allow access to websites of abortion services providers
By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
(CNN) -- Military personnel will now be able to fully access the websites of abortion service providers from their government computers and email accounts after the Pentagon determined it should no longer include those sites as content it routinely blocks.
"We determined that we should allow content categorized as abortion-related," said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Gorman, a Pentagon spokesman.
The Pentagon operates dozens of computer networks and access to various sites, including websites for abortion services providers, can vary depending on the server being used.
Abortion sites were originally restricted in 2010 due to limits on server bandwidth, not government restrictions on abortions from military providers, Gorman said.
"We are working our way through all DOD networks now to ensure that the restriction is lifted uniformly," he added. "We are updating our broader policy to ensure consistency and access to appropriate information for the DOD workforce."
Bandwidth limitations are no longer a driving issue, but access restrictions are still maintained on certain websites such as those involving pornography and illegal activities. The issue of not having full access to abortion services websites arose last month when the Military Times, a privately published newspaper, brought it to the attention of the Pentagon, Gorman said.
The Pentagon has been under pressure from some congressional Democrats to ensure military service members' access to abortion is protected regardless of what state they are stationed in.
In a recent letter to the Defense Department, some Senate Democrats are requesting the department outline a plan to guarantee that women seeking abortions in states where the procedure is severely restricted, or no longer legal, are given appropriate time off to travel out of state, guaranteed privacy protections and assured they will not be retaliated against for their decision.
For now, the Defense Department is continuing to abide by federal laws governing its abortion activities, which restricts abortions to those in which the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.
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