VA hospitals will offer abortions despite state bans
The Biden administration has announced plans to offer abortion procedures at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities to eligible veterans and beneficiaries, including in states where the procedure recently became illegal.
The department released a statement on Friday announcing the submission of an interim final rule to the Federal Register the day before that will authorize VA hospitals to provide abortions and abortion counseling in cases of rape, incest and when life of the mother is in danger.
“This is a patient safety decision,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said.
“Pregnant veterans and VA recipients deserve access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most,” he added. “That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we’re going to deliver to VA.”
The document cited the June decision of the United States Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization who canceled the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide as justification for adopting the new policy.
“After Dobbssome states have begun enforcing existing abortion bans and care restrictions, and are proposing and enacting new ones, creating urgent risks to the lives and health of pregnant veterans…in those states,” the submitted rule reads. .
VA Undersecretary of Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal said the proposed rule follows conversations with “health care providers and VA veterans across the country, which rang the bells.” ‘alarm that abortion restrictions are creating a medical emergency for those we serve’.
“Providing this care will save veterans’ health and lives, and there is nothing more important than that,” Elnahal predicted.
According to the proposed rule: “VA acts to help ensure that, regardless of laws or policies that states may impose, veterans who receive the care outlined in the medical benefit package will be able to obtain abortions, if so is determined by a medical professional physician, when the pregnant Veteran’s life or health would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term or if the pregnancy resulted from an act of rape or incest.
The announcement comes after a demand from more than two dozen congressional Democrats urging McDonough to change agency regulations to allow VA hospitals to offer abortions.
“The power of the VA to provide care to veterans is established in the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996“, the lawmakers wrote in a July letter.
Members of Congress argue that the statute requires the agency to “provide such hospital care and medical services as the secretary deems necessary” for a particular group of veterans.
The proposed rule proclaims that the “VA has determined that an abortion is ‘necessary’ pursuant to 38 USC 1710, when requested by a veteran, if deemed necessary by a medical professional, when life or the pregnant veteran’s health would be at risk. if the pregnancy has been carried to term or if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest. »
Republicans and life advocates view the proposed rule as a violation of federal law.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., wrote a letter to McDonough last August 26, warning him that federal law prohibits the VA from providing abortions.
He cited Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, which authorizes the VA to provide “general reproductive health care, including menopause management, but not including in this section infertility services, abortions or pregnancy care”.
The VA insists the amended regulations do not violate the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, as Section 106 “does not prohibit the VA from modifying its medical benefit package in this manner. “.
“When this law was enacted in 1992, prior to the 1996 enactment of the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act, VA health care was subject to a patchwork of eligibility criteria , and care was largely related only to service-related conditions,” the proposed rule states.
“Section 106 did not limit VA’s authority to provide care under any other provision of the law. The ‘but not included’ wording of VHCA Section 106 only limited the services provided” in under that section”, meaning that while Section 106 prohibited the provision of any abortion or infertility services under Section 106 of the VHCA, this did not limit VA’s authority to provide such services under any other legal provision.”
Lankford argues that “abortion is not and never will be health care”.
“Health care protects life. Abortion takes life. Instead of promoting the taking of human life, I challenge you and others within the VA to respect the dignity of our veterans and all of their family members, including unborn children, by ensuring services provided and funded by the VA are focused on real health care that complies with federal law,” Lankford wrote.
Pro-life organizations also condemned the new rule.
“Shame on Secretary McDonough for caving in to Biden and the demands of the radical abortion lobby to violate state and federal abortion laws,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony. Pro-Life America, in a statement. .
“Abortion is not health care — in fact, it carries serious physical and mental health risks — and the expansion of abortion on demand in the VA is illegal, period,” a she argued. “This is the latest blatant example of pro-abortion extremism to grip the Democratic Party. Biden himself used to agree that taxpayers should never be forced to fund the destruction of innocent lives. Now he heads the most pro-abortion party administration in history.”
Once the rule is published in the Federal Register, federal law requires a 30-day public comment period.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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