December 16, 2022

VA Nurse Sues Biden Administration over Abortion Rule

A Texas nurse with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has sued the VA over a Biden rule requiring the agency to commit abortions regardless of state law. She accused the rule of lacking a process for religious exemptions and requiring employees to risk prosecution for violating Texas's Heartbeat Act.

Army Veteran and Nurse Practitioner Stephanie Carter filed the lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the rule's enforcement in Texas. Carter says that she sought religious accommodation, but she was told that the Biden rule has "no process" to review such requests. Under the new rule, Carter could be asked to provide abortion counseling or prescribe abortion pills.

Carter is represented by First Liberty Institute, which also accuses the administration of disregarding the federal rulemaking process and the Veterans Health Care Act's express ban against committing abortions at VA facilities.

"They didn't care to take notice or comment before the rule was implemented to understand that there are many employees out there who have these concerns," First Liberty Senior Counsel Danielle Runyan told Fox News. "The rule doesn't account for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It doesn't take into account religious conscience. It says nothing about that. So it's just another instance where First Amendment and RFRA rights are being ignored and that just can't be," she said.

"The VA should be focused on caring for the men and women who bravely served to protect our country, not on performing illegal abortions," Runyan said in a press release. "The new VA Rule disregards longstanding federal law that prohibits VA clinics from performing abortions and fails to account for the sincerely held religious beliefs of medical providers who are impacted by the Rule."

VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes told Fox News that the VA "does provide accommodation for VA employees who wish to opt out of providing abortion counseling or services," but he did not elaborate on whether the rule requires this.

"We are currently honoring exemption requests that come through VA supervisors," Hayes continued. "We have provided all VA health care employees with this information – including information for how to exercise those protections through VA’s Office of Resolution Management Diversity and Inclusion – and we have encouraged employees to inform their supervisors of any requests for exemptions."