August 20, 2021

Senator Corrects VA Secretary on Abortion "Regulation"

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough
As part of a debate regarding whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should fund abortions, VA Secretary Denis McDonough called a ban on VA funding of abortions a "policy decision" and a "regulatory matter." This implied that the VA could take internal action to reverse the abortion prohibition and begin funding abortions with taxpayer dollars. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas criticized McDonough's testimony in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last week, making it clear that the prohibition on abortion funding is not simply a "policy decision," it is federal law. it is federal law.

Sen. Moran said, “I want to draw attention to a letter I received from Secretary McDonough last week describing VA’s prohibition on abortion services as a ‘policy decision.’ The letter follows the Secretary’s testimony in March where he described VA-provided abortion services as a ‘regulatory matter.’ What is troubling about these statements is that VA’s prohibition on abortion services is more than a policy decision or regulatory matter, it’s the law.”

Sen. Moran explained that Congress passed the Veterans Healthcare Act in 1992. That law specifically prohibits the VA from offering abortion. He also noted that until 2021, that the VA website was updated this year to reflect the same language used by McDonough in his testimony. It used to read that the VA "cannot, by lay, provide abortion services." In 2021, it was updated to read, "under current regulation, VA does not provide abortion or abortion counseling.

Moran concluded by saying that the VA “has not acted or indicated that it will act on changing its long-standing policy to follow the law as written in regard to abortion... That said, it is necessary to defend life by ensuring that VA or any federal agency does not fund or perform abortions. I expect the Department to continue to follow the law and protect unborn children.”