VA to offer abortions in ‘certain cases,’ agency says

Health

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 09: Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough gestures as he speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club on November 09, 2021 in Washington, DC. McDonough spoke on a range of topics including the concerns facing veterans and the recent Covid-19 vaccine mandate for employees in the Veterans Health Administration. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced Friday it will provide abortion counseling and, in “certain cases,” abortions to pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries regardless of whether the procedure is legal in the state.

The agency submitted the interim final rule to the Federal Register and the services will be available “in as many locations as possible” after the final review is made public.

“This is a patient safety decision,” said Denis McDonough, secretary of veterans affairs. “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.”

Several abortion trigger laws went into effect in several U.S. states last week following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24. More trigger laws are expected to follow.

The VA announcement comes as President Joe Biden’s administration seeks to make the medical procedure as available as possible following the high court’s decision to return abortion laws to the states.

Biden last week reiterated his desire for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into law, but admitted: “We’re short a handful of votes.”

Democrats would need 10 Republican votes to overcome a filibuster and get a bill through the 50-50 Senate, but only two GOP senators have publicly backed abortion rights. And even though they narrowly control the Senate, Democrats don’t have enough votes to sidestep the filibuster.

While marking Woman’s Equality Day on Aug. 26, Biden called some states’ abortion restrictions “beyond the pale.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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