Sen. Warren Leads 24 Senators To Urge Veterans Affairs Department To Immediately Begin Offering Abortion Services

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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat. (stock photo)

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WASHINGTON DC  – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) led 23 of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents.

Almost 400,000 women veterans of reproductive age live in states that are certain or likely to ban abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade.

A total of 25 senators – half of the Senate Democratic Caucus – signed the letter. In addition to Senators Warren and Hirono, the letter is also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

“Last month’s disastrous Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the nearly fifty-year precedent established by Roe v. Wade and removed constitutional protection for abortion access from millions of individuals in this country, including an ever-growing number of veterans and dependents who are able to become pregnant,” wrote the senators. “This decision makes it even more critical that veterans receive access to the reproductive care to which they are entitled. Thus, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must urgently begin rulemaking to allow veterans and eligible dependents to receive abortions and all abortion-related services.”  

Under current VA regulations, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is prohibited from providing abortions and abortion counseling as part of the medical benefits package. But the law also makes clear that the VA Secretary “shall furnish hospital care and medical services which the Secretary determines to be needed.” In a letter sent to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, the members argue that because the VA has the statutory authority to provide abortions, they must immediately begin a rulemaking process to change the current regulations to provide abortion and abortion-related services. The letter highlights that Secretary McDonough also recently expressed that the VA has the statutory authority to provide abortions. 

“We contend that the VA has the statutory authority and discretion to provide abortions and abortion-related services and resources,” continued the lawmakers. “The VA’s authority to provide care to veterans is established in the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996. That statute provides that the VA Secretary ‘shall furnish hospital care and medical services which the Secretary determines to be needed’ to certain veterans. Importantly, the VA has used its authority under the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 to provide reproductive care such as pregnancy care and infertility services, even though such care was initially excluded from the health care packages allowed under the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992.”

Read the Text of Letter here.

editor

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