The Secretary of Defense’s duties now include oversight of policies impacting both women’s reproductive health and the rights of LGBT service members, two factors that make presidential nominee Chuck Hagel’s “Akin-esque” viewpoints a questionable fit for the position, Rachel Maddow said on Tuesday.
“Running the Pentagon is about troop deployments and training regimens and weapons procurement and strategic thinking about things like intercontinental ballistic missiles, right? It’s definitely about guns,” Maddow said. “But we don’t generally think about it having to do much with God and gays. Except it really kind of does.”
As a senator, Maddow explained, the Republican from Nebraska repeatedly voted against amendments letting female service members pay out of pocket for abortions at military facilities. He also opposed abortion exceptions in the case of rape or incest, saying those were “rare” occurrences.
According to Buzzfeed, Hagel originally favored abortion in rape and incest cases, as well as in instances where the mother’s life was at stake, but later said he changed his mind after studying the issue, saying he didn’t think those exceptions were “relevant.”
“So not only would your insurance not cover it — according to Chuck Hagel, you shouldn’t even have access to it in a military hospital,” Maddow said. “What, ‘Go find a local service provider, deployed service woman’?”
But the latest defense bill, Maddow said, included a provision allowing service women’s medical coverage to include abortions for pregnancies caused by rape, colliding with Hagel’s views — which are seemingly not that different from those expressed by failed GOP candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
And even if Hagel apologized for “insensitive” remarks he made in 1998 against a nominee for an ambassadorship, his views on LGBT service members’ rights will be crucial, said Maddow, because if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, that would affect day-to-day issues like health and dental insurance, family advocacy services, and a dependent’s housing allowance — all benefits that LGBT service members’ families do not have access to.
“It may very well be Chuck Hagel deciding the very sensitive issue of whether a gay service member’s family gets this kind of equal treatment,” she said.
Watch Maddow break down Hagel’s history on LGBT and reproductive rights, aired Tuesday on MSNBC, below.