September 6, 2022

Veterans Affairs Announces Legally Dubious Plan to Offer Abortions

On Sept. 2, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced plans to offer abortion counseling and abortions to pregnant veterans and eligible dependents. According to the VA, these abortions may be offered regardless of state laws prohibiting them.

According to the interim final rule published by the VA, these abortions would be offered in cases of rape, incest, or when “the life or the health of the pregnant veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term.” There is no police report requirement for cases of rape or incest.

Pro-abortion legislators pushed for the change in letters to the VA. In the past, they argued that the VA would legally be allowed to offer abortion because the Hyde Amendment does not apply to the VA.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) argued in August and reiterated on Sept. 2 that abortion coverage is explicitly excluded from reproductive healthcare services the VA can provide.

The Epoch Times writes, "Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 says that the VA may provide women with 'general reproductive healthcare, including the management of menopause, but not including under this section infertility services, abortions, or pregnancy care,' except relating to a pregnancy 'that is complicated or in which the risks of complications are increased by a service-connected condition.'"

The Biden VA argues that the new rule is legal under 38 U.S.C. 1710, which provides limited authority for the VA secretary to provide medical services "which the Secretary determines to be needed."

The interim rule will take effect when it is published in the federal register. After that, there will be a 30-day period for public comments. The VA plans to prepare abortion services immediately after the rule is published.