VA sticks to abortion policy after legal threats from GOP state GAs

VA sticks to abortion policy after legal threats from GOP state GAs

Veterans Affairs leaders plan no changes to their abortion access rules following warnings from 15 Republican attorneys general that they plan to fight such policies in court.

Last week, the coalition of state officials sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough denouncing “lawless and hasty executive actions taken at the behest of his political base” regarding abortion.

“We will not allow you to use this rule to erect a regime of elective abortions that defies state law,” the group wrote. “And we will enforce our duly enacted state laws and hold you accountable for violations of federal law. Those who perform abortions on the basis of [new] rule – and in defiance of state or federal law – do so at their own risk.

The letter was sent by the office of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, but also includes signatories from Texas and Florida, two states with the largest veteran populations in America. Officials from Arizona, Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia also signed.

In September, VA officials announced that department physicians would provide access to abortion for veterans and eligible dependents in cases of rape, incest, and pregnancy that endangers the life or health of a victim. ‘an individual.

The move came in response to the June Supreme Court ruling reversing Roe v. Wade of 1973 which legalized abortion nationwide. Since then, several states have banned or limited the procedure.

VA officials said the new rule means staff can help veterans have abortions at an outside health care facility or perform abortions on federal property, even in states where the procedure has been banned.

The department has performed several abortions since the ruling, although officials did not provide specific numbers or locations.

In a statement responding to the attorneys general’s letter, VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the department remains “committed to providing veterans with the full range of reproductive health services to ensure their health and well-being. welfare”.

These services not only include abortion procedures, but also fertility services, contraceptives and menopause care, he said.

“VA provides access to abortion counseling and abortions when the pregnant veteran’s life or health would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or abuse. ‘an incest,’ he said.

“As VA Secretary Denis McDonough has said, ‘Pregnant veterans and VA recipients deserve access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most. “”

VA officials said the new rule would not allow “elective” abortions, but the wording allows abortion procedures to be considered when a veteran’s health is at risk.

Several Republican lawmakers have threatened to impose financial sanctions on the department when they take control of the House majority next year. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders have pledged to fight such attacks.

VA officials said about 300,000 female veterans currently enrolled in department health services are of childbearing age.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned him numerous accolades, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.

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