The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will soon begin offering abortions to pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries for the first time ever, even in states where abortion is banned, according to an interim final rule submitted to the Federal Register Thursday evening.
A VA press release explained that the taxpayer-funded department will provide access to abortions when “the life or health” of a veteran or beneficiary “would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term,” or if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest.
The release said that the VA will determine if the life and health of the mother is at risk on a case-by-case basis through a “careful consultation between VA health care providers and the Veterans they serve.”
“In cases of rape or incest, self-reporting from a Veteran or VA beneficiary will constitute sufficient evidence that an act of rape or incest occurred,” the release added.
The VA claimed that “state bans and restrictions on abortion present a serious threat to the health and lives of over one hundred thousand veterans.”
“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,” the rule asserts, adding that the VA has determined access to abortion is “needed.”
The VA also claimed that “access to medically necessary abortions is essential for preserving the life and health of Veterans and VA beneficiaries.”
“This is a patient safety decision,” Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, 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.”
In June, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 vote which held that abortion is not a constitutional right. Twenty-six states had petitioned the court to overrule the abortion precedent.