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VA to provide abortions to veterans for first-time despite state laws, GOP objections

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to provide abortions at its facilities for the very first time in its history, including in states with near-total bans, on the objections of Republicans who said the move violates federal law.

The department announced Friday that it’ll begin providing abortions and abortion counseling to veterans and also eligible civilian family once the life or health of the pregnant woman is in peril, or in cases of rape or incest.

The services can be available after publication of the interim final rule, that was submitted Thursday to the Federal Register. The general public has 30 days to comment.

It is a patient safety decision, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to possess usage of world-class reproductive care if they require it most. Thats what our nation owes them, and thats what we at VA will deliver.

Your choice to place VA hospitals in the abortion business came despite warnings from Republicans and pro-life advocates that the Veterans HEALTHCARE Act of 1992 prohibits the department from providing abortions.

Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, told Mr. McDonough within an Aug. 26 letter that the move will be a direct violation of the laws you swore to uphold and follow.

The senator tweeted Friday that the VA isnt an abortion clinic.

For 30 years, regulations has been clear that the VA isnt permitted to provide abortions, Mr. Lankford said. Rather than ignoring regulations & promoting taking human life, the VA should respect the dignity of our veterans & their family, including unborn children.

The Biden Administration is enthusiastic about increasing abortions. https://t.co/aXT6gOEBg1

Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) September 2, 2022

Democrats have countered by citing the Veterans HEALTHCARE Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, which says the VA secretary shall furnish hospital care and medical services that your secretary determines to be needed.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, was the type of who praised the departments decision.

Glad to start to see the @DeptVetAffairs quickly heeding the calls @SenWarren and I resulted in offer abortion services to veterans, Ms. Hirono tweeted. That is an important first rung on the ladder. The VA must go further and offer these services to all or any veterans, irrespective of circumstances.

The department said it sought to ensure abortion-related care any place in the country, which may include states that prohibit abortion except in limited circumstances.

VA employees, when working within the scope of these federal employment, might provide authorized services irrespective of state restrictions, the department said.

President Biden signed an executive order last month targeted at using federal resources to greatly help women obtain abortions, including by traveling out of state, while Democrats and pro-choice advocates have urged him to go further by offering abortions on military bases along with other federal sites.

Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, said the department begins committing abortions, even yet in states where human life has been protected, and abortion made illegal.

It is a gravely immoral, unjust, and illegal move by the Biden Administration, she tweeted.

Around 300,000 veterans are of child-bearing age, and based on the department, they face greater threat of experiencing pregnancy-related complications because of increased rates of chronic health issues.

Therefore, to safeguard the life span and health of pregnant veterans and eligible beneficiaries, VA determined that it had been essential to provide usage of abortion counseling and in some instances abortions, the Friday statement said.

The rule also would cover civilian beneficiaries signed up for the Civilian Health insurance and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs [CHAMPVA], which gives coverage to spouses and children of veterans who have been disabled by or died of service-connected conditions.

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