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VA Puts Abortions Ahead of Caring for Veterans

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the latest agency to flout the will of the people by focusing on politics rather than its foundational mission. Instead of ensuring America’s warfighters are cared for, the VA has spent the past two years pushing for abortion services to be made widely available to its members. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), no stranger to fighting the abortion agenda being pushed by military agencies, is introducing the VA Abortion Transparency Act, his latest effort to hold the VA accountable.

Though the VA was not formally created until 1989, the American government has been providing healthcare services to its men and women in uniform since the Revolutionary War. It is a way to “care for him who shall have borne the battle,” in the words of Abraham Lincoln. Providing for the well-being of the nation’s military members, particularly those wounded while in the line of duty, is a worthy taxpayer expenditure.

But abortion should never be a government-provided service. Even though our nation is deeply divided on this issue, for many years both Democrats and Republicans agreed that taxpayer dollars should not be used for something millions of Americans find to be a violation of their deeply held religious and conscious beliefs. President Joe Biden himself championed this reasonable compromise for many years. But the radical elements in his party will allow it no more. The days of abortion being safe, legal, and rare are long gone.

The VA is meant to enrich the lives of the nation’s veterans, not cause untold amounts of trauma to women via these procedures or rob the country of future servicemembers by ending the lives of countless unborn children. However, as of March 2024, abortions are now included as one of the “healthcare services” that the VA is providing to female veterans.

Just three months after the Dobbs decision returned the question of abortion to the people through their elected representatives, the VA announced an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that would allow the agency to facilitate abortions at VA medical centers or through community care. And despite pushback from Congress, a religious liberty lawsuit, and criticism from voters in the form of over 57,000 comments during the Rule’s 30-day comment period, the Rule was officially finalized last month.

This Rule changes the VA’s longstanding exclusion of abortions and abortion counseling from its covered services and flagrantly violates the Veterans Health Care Act, a federal law that has prohibited VA facilities from performing abortions for over 30 years. The agency argues in the Rule that this change is necessary because “as abortion bans come into force across the country, veterans in many states are no longer assured access to abortion services in their communities, even when those services are needed.”

This popular argument is simply not true and does not justify the federal government funding and providing abortion services. In every state that restricts abortion, physicians can use good faith medical judgment to perform lifesaving procedures for pregnant women.

Despite that, abortions are now being provided at VA medical centers, as long as the abortion is done to either protect the life of the woman or because the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Whether or not an abortion qualifies under one of these categories or is “needed” per the statutory language is determined “by healthcare professionals on a case-by-case basis and be consistent with established standards of care.”

In the Rule, the VA also clarifies that these procedures would, in fact, be taxpayer funded. It promised that to the extent it can directly furnish and pay for such abortions, including travel, “it will do so.” The effect of this is that the VA is now able to legally provide abortions and abortion drugs at centers in states that have voted to restrict or ban abortions.

Sen. Tuberville has led the charge against this new Rule ever since it was announced. In October of 2022, he and 38 other members of Congress signed a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough condemning the IFR. The following February, Tuberville and Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas 27) led a bicameral resolution of disapproval of the new Rule, legislation that Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) endorsed. Despite Congress’s best efforts, the Rule has now been finalized, so Tuberville’s next move, alongside Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa 1), is to introduce legislation that would force the VA to be transparent about the abortion services that it is providing.

Over the course of the rulemaking process, the VA has failed to provide any substantive data on the number of abortions, the reasons for the abortions, or even at what stage in a pregnancy these abortions are taking place. If passed, Tuberville’s bill would require the VA to be transparent about the abortion-related services that it is providing on the government’s dime. The bill would force the VA to provide a quarterly report that provides the number of surgical abortions vs. abortions via mifepristone or other drugs, the number of weeks at which the abortion was conducted, the exception under which the abortion was justified, the state in which the procedure took place, and the total expenditures for facilitating these procedures.

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of a government agency run amok, acting out of accord with the will of the American people. Instead of meeting the real needs of the country’s veterans, the VA is busy pushing a radical abortion agenda. If the federal government is going to provide taxpayer-funded abortions and, often, in states that have restricted the practice, the least that they can do is provide some relevant data to Congress. CWALAC thanks Sen. Tuberville’s tireless efforts on this front. Use our action center to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support the VA Abortion Transparency Act.