Senator warns VA that providing abortions to veterans is illegal

veterans department
The sign on the front of the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters building is seen as a man walks by in Washington, May 23, 2014. |

A U.S. senator is opposing a Department of Veterans Affairs policy proposal that he says could lead the government to offer abortions to veterans and their families in violation of federal law.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., wrote a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough on Friday, expressing concern about an interim final rule the agency submitted to the Office of Management’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. and the budget for “reproductive health services. The VA submitted the interim final rule on August 4.

“While the contents of the proposed IFR are not publicly available, this advancement in the regulatory process raises significant concerns due to statements made by you and other VA officials that the agency is seeking to provide abortion services to veterans and their families. , although prohibited by federal law,” he wrote.

Lankford cited statements made by McDonough during a July 31 CNN “State of the Union” appearance as a specific cause for concern.

Host Jake Tapper noted that more than two dozen Senate Democrats sent McDonough a letter urging him to make abortion available to the nearly 400,000 female veterans living in states likely or certain to ban abortion. abortion following the reversal by the United States Supreme Court of the 1973 decision. Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

When asked if the AV would “take this step and allow abortion services at AV hospitals, even in states where abortion is banned,” McDonough promised that “we’ll make sure that they have access to all of this care”. referring to “reproductive health care”.

Tapper went on to ask if the VA would provide women with abortions in states where it’s illegal or if the agency would “pay to fly them” elsewhere.

“We are expressly looking at these questions about how we secure the lives and health of our female veterans, these 300,000 women who rely on us for their care,” he said. “We are looking at this very closely to ensure that there is no decrease, no reduction in services for them.”

While McDonough declined to elaborate when pressed for details, he said his “preference is that they don’t risk their lives as a result of this court decision.” He added: “We’re going to make sure we’re able to take care of them.”

Lankford told McDonough that “current federal law and regulation, however, contradicts these statements and prohibits the VA from providing abortion services.”

The Republican pointed to Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, which states that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may provide women with “general reproductive health care, including management of menopause, but not including in this section infertility services, abortions or pregnancy care.

The 25 Democrats who wrote the letter to McDonough acknowledged that “current VA regulations prohibit the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) from offering abortions and abortion counseling as part of the benefits package. medical”. However, they insisted that the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 gives the VA Secretary authority to “provide such hospital care and medical services as the Secretary deems needed” for some veterans.

“The VA must do everything in its power to provide essential reproductive care to veterans and their dependents across the country,” the lawmakers concluded. “We call on you to take swift decisive action to ensure that all of our veterans…can access abortions and all abortion-related services.”

Lankford rejected the analysis of his colleagues, who represent half of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“While activists and even my colleagues in Congress – including some who have written to you encouraging you to promote abortions in states where unborn life is protected, such as Oklahoma – may want you to use your authority to usurping Congress to allow the VA to provide, or even pay for, abortions through rulemaking would be a direct violation of the laws you are sworn to uphold and follow,” Lankford wrote.

“Such action would further erode the integrity of the rule-making process. Abortion is not and never will be care. Health protects life. Abortion takes life. Instead of promoting death human, I challenge you and others within the VA to respect the dignity of our veterans and all their family members, including unborn children, by ensuring that services provided and funded by the VA are focused on real health care.

Since Dobbs decision, more than a dozen states have banned or severely restricted abortion, although court rulings have prevented some bans from taking effect.

As documented by pro-life group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, 14 states have enacted “total/near-total limits on abortion,” while six others have similar bans in place related to abortions. legal challenges.

Three states will soon have “total/near-total limits on abortion,” while Florida has a 15-week abortion ban on the books. The remaining 27 states have “little or no limits on abortion” at this time.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be contacted at:

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