After more than two dozen states banned abortions this summer, the Department of Veterans Affairs announces that they will be providing safe abortions to eligible veterans and dependents in cases of rape, incest and pregnancies which pose a threat to the mother’s life.
This will be the first time that VA physicians are allowed to perform abortions on federal property using federal dollars, even in states that have enacted abortion bans.
VA officials maintain that their doctors have a right and a responsibility to provide the procedure — even when working within the scope of their federal jobs — in spite of restrictions emplaced by the state.
Denis McDonough, the VA Secretary, called this “a patient safety decision” designed to fill a crucial gap in military healthcare. McDonough said:
“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.”
This new program will also include abortion counseling for eligible veterans and dependents as well as coordination between the VA and local private medical providers in states without abortion bans.
The VA’s Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal said department leadership initiated this new development “after listening to VA health care providers and veterans across the country, who sounded the alarm that abortion restrictions are creating a medical emergency for those we serve.”
According to the Under Secretary, providing the opportunity to obtain safe and legal abortions is “in accordance with generally accepted standards of medical practice” and added that “offering this care will save veterans’ health and lives, and there is nothing more important than that.”