The secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) told CNN on Sunday that the department is looking at ways to provide abortions in states that have banned it.
During an interview, host Jake Tapper asked about a letter from Senate Democrats and cited an analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families, showing that 389,600 women veterans live in states where abortion is banned. “Will the VA take this measure and allow abortion services at VA hospitals even in states where abortion is banned?” Tapper asked.
“There are 300,000 women veterans of childbearing age who rely on us for their reproductive health care, for all their health care,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough responded. “We’re going to make sure that they have access to the full slate of that care, because that’s what we owe them.”
“In those states?” Tapper asked.
“We’re looking expressly at these questions about how we guarantee the life and the health of our women veterans, those 300,000 who rely on us for their care,” McDonough responded. “I don’t have any announcements to make on that this morning, Jake. But we’re looking very closely at that to ensure that there’s no diminution and no reduction of services to them and no risk to their — to their lives as a result of these decisions.”
Tapper also asked if McDonough would prefer to have abortions take place in VA clinics within those states.
“My preference is that those 300,000 women veterans — and that’s the fastest growing cohort of veterans that we have in our care, women veterans — my preference is that they not face risks to their lives as a result of this decision from the court,” McDonough said. “We’re going to make sure that we’re in a position to take care of that.”
McDonough’s comments came in response to a letter from 24 Democratic senators, led by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono, demanding that the VA amend or create regulations allowing VA to provide abortion and related services to veterans, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “We contend that the VA has the statutory authority and discretion to provide abortions and abortion-related services and resources,” the senators wrote. “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.”
“The VA must do everything in its power to provide critical reproductive care to veterans and their dependents across the country,” the senators added.
The secretary’s comments add to a series of attempts by Democrats and the Biden administration to end-run states that have banned abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which sent abortion laws back to the states.
Just a few days after the Dobbs decision, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said his department was looking at using taxpayer funds to provide transportation across state lines for women seeking abortions. Far-left members of Congress, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for abortion clinics to be set up on federal lands.