President Joe Biden has made clear one of his top priorities is to write abortion rights into law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June. But because Republicans will control the House of Representatives in January, Democrats won't have enough votes to pass that law.
So the Biden administration is looking for other ways to make abortion more available. and one way has been through the Veterans Administration.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced a new rule allowing for abortion counseling and in some cases, abortion procedures, for pregnant veterans and their beneficiaries. It's a move pro-life Republicans strongly oppose.
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) said, "I believe that it is not only immoral but it is also illegal."
As part of the rule change, the V.A. now provides abortions when the life or health of the mother is in danger, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Congressman Bost, the ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, argues the V.A. is not allowed to do this.
"Congress prohibited V.A. from providing abortions in 1992. Congress has never repealed that protection," Bost said.
Others add that this isn't even necessary.
"Every single state law both before, during, and after Roe allows exceptions for medical emergencies," noted The Human Coalition's Chelsey Youman. "Women are able to obtain care as needed. We even at Human Coalition will refer clients with ectopic pregnancies and other dire situations straight to the ER for care, and so that portion of it is unnecessary."
Youman also told CBN News she had other concerns.
"The portions of it that are really concerning are the fact that they're forcing V.A. doctors to perform abortions. Sometimes in contexts that laws do not allow even in spite of their own conscience or religious beliefs or values," she explained.
A move Youman believes is unconstitutional.
"This is just an absolute problem with the Hyde Amendment that says our taxpayer dollars cannot go towards funding abortion, and the V.A. is not included in that," she said. "And so they're really working every loophole they can find right now."
In Alabama, where abortion is prohibited in cases of rape and incest but allowed when the mother's life is at risk, officials have threatened to punish V.A. workers who perform the procedure.
Youman said attorney generals across the country are pursuing legal challenges to the new rule, while the Justice Department asserts it's prepared to defend V.A. medical workers providing abortions in states with restrictions.
***Originally published Dec. 8, 2022.
Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.