For The First Time, The VA Will Begin Providing Abortions To Veterans

by | Sep 2, 2022 | Politics

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday that, for the first time, it will begin providing access to abortion services and counseling to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of female veterans and VA beneficiaries.The VA’s decision is monumental, but it comes with restrictions: The agency will only provide abortions in cases where a pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is at risk.Advertisement“This is a patient safety decision,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most. That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we at VA will deliver.”Asked why McDonough decided to limit the VA’s abortion services to cases of rape, incest or a woman’s life being at risk, a VA spokesperson told HuffPost, “At this time, VA is responding to the emergency need to protect the life and health of our nation’s Veterans.””This is a patient safety decision,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said of the VA beginning to provide abortion services to veterans.Drew Angerer via Getty ImagesThe VA’s move comes roughly two months after conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that provided a constitutional right to an abortion.AdvertisementMcDonough has been under pressure from Democrats to use his authority to ensure that veterans and VA beneficiaries have access to reproductive care in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s demise. Last month, more than two dozen Democratic senators — half of the Senate Democratic caucus — wrote to McDonough urging him to act “immediately.” Roughly 555,000 female veterans used the VA health care system in fiscal year 2020, as did more than 400,000 female dependents and survivors through the agency’s CHAMPVA program.They were very happy with Friday’s news.“Today, I’m grateful that Secretary McDonough and the Biden Administration are taking a landmark step to help address the health care crises that Republicans are causing across the country,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and a senior member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.“For the first time ever, the Veterans Health Administration will finally be able to provide abortion care to ensure none of our veterans or their eligible dependents will have to face medical emergencies — or stay pregnant after a rape or incest — simply because Republican politicians think they know what’s best for them,” she said.Unlike the Department of Health and Human Services, the VA is not bound by the Hyde Amendment, the legislative provision that bars the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases where a pregnancy is caused by rape, incest or when the women’s life is at risk. That means VA le …

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