Americans United for Life filed a comment yesterday in opposition to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Interim Final Rule (IFR), “Reproductive Health Services.” The IFR unlawfully adds abortion counseling and abortions to the medical benefits package and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans AFFAIRS (CHAMPVA) for the life or health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. Since the VA has not constrained the definition of “health,” virtually any situation could fit the medical exception, creating a program of abortion on demand up until the baby’s birth date. The VA claims the IFR preempts pro-life state laws, even in states that have abolished abortion.
Congress Prohibits the VA From Providing Abortions
In our comment, we argue that Congress never repealed Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, which prohibits providing abortion in VA health programming. Even though Congress passed subsequent legislation granting general authority for the VA to create health programs, these laws did not discuss abortion. Accordingly, Section 106’s specific prohibition on abortion remains binding law.
Congress has not delegated the authority to the VA to create a national abortion policy, let alone a radical policy that permits abortion on demand. The VA contends the IFR preempts state laws that “unduly interfere” with abortion. Reminiscent of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey’s undue burden standard, this test will wreak havoc over which pro-life laws are permissible. AUL’s comment requests the VA to consider and explain the IFR’s impact upon pro-life state laws, such as prenatal nondiscrimination, domestic violence prevention, informed consent, and reporting provisions.
Veteran Affairs Must Abandon Their Unlawful Exercise of Power
Although the VA claims it has “good cause” to bypass the normal rulemaking process and, instead, immediately issue the rule, AUL shows the flaws of this argument. The IFR subverts Congress’ pro-life policy stance and does not recognize the government’s legitimate interest in the unborn child. Moreover, the VA does not have the power to weigh the government’s interests in the abortion issue, which, as the Supreme Court recognized in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, include preservation of prenatal life, elimination of barbaric medical procedures, and integrity of the medical profession. Consequently, AUL urged the VA to abandon the IFR as an unlawful exercise of power.
“This is yet another example in a long train of outrageous positions the Biden administration has taken to promote abortion on demand in spite of the clear ruling of the Supreme Court in the Dobbs case,” said AUL Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel Steven H. Aden. “Although federal law has prohibited paying for, providing or counseling for elective abortion in many statutory and regulatory provisions for decades, this administration still insists on pretending it can browbeat VA doctors and nurses, pharmacists and other conscientious healthcare professionals into doing what fourteen states now declare illegal – ending human life.”