Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who was instrumental in overturning Roe v. Wade, and 17 other state attorneys general have challenged the Biden administration ruling that would turn VA hospitals into abortion centers.
Fitch and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall are leading the group of 18 AGs in filing an amicus brief in the Western District of Texas in the case of Carter v McDonough.
On September 9, Joe Biden issued a new rule that requires Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to provide taxpayer-funded abortions “regardless of state restrictions” – a clear violation of the law, the attorneys generals said. A Texas nurse has filed a lawsuit to stop Joe Biden from moving forward and the 18 AG are supporting her lawsuit.
The AGs say Biden’s move incorrectly reversed long-standing agency practice and adopted an interim final rule that purports to authorize taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling for veterans and their beneficiaries.
“In direct contravention of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch, “President Biden has taken abortion policy away from state legislators, Congress, and, most importantly, the people and given it to political appointees in his own Administration. The Dobbs decision was about the rule of law. This VA rule is precisely the opposite.”
In the brief, the Attorneys General write, “Rather than respect the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s decision, the Biden Administration has sought to wrest control over abortion back from the people.” The brief explains that the rule is deeply flawed because the VA does not have the legal authority it claimed to use in support of this rule.
“[The VA’s rule] reflects disregard for the democratic process, intrusion on areas of traditional state authority, and defiance of the Supreme Court’s recognition that the hard questions in this area have been ‘return[ed]’ to ‘legislative bodies,’” wrote the Attorneys General. “[T]he VA justifies the rule not because of the absence of state laws on the subject of abortion but because of the Department’s disapproval of them on policy grounds.”
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In addition to General Fitch (MS) and General Marshall (AL), the brief was joined by Attorneys General from the states of Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. Read the brief here.
Leading pro-life groups ar concerned that a $71 million increase in taxpayer funding to the Office of Women’s Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs will be used illegally to fund abortions. Since 1992, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been statutorily prohibited from using taxpayer dollars for abortion. In September, the Biden administration ignored this longstanding prohibition and issued a new rule that funds abortion for undefined and presumably broad “health” reasons.
Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs said it plans to kill babies in abortions in cases of rape or incest or in cases where the mother’s life or health is in danger, even though doctors repeatedly say abortions are never medically necessary.
Responding to this, a VA nurse in Texas has filed a lawsuit against the administration, saying she doesn’t want to have to work at a hospital that also kills babies in abortions and could require her to assist in or promote abortions.
The plaintiff in the Texas lawsuit — Stephanie Carter, a nurse practitioner at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center in Temple — is a 23-year VA employee and Army veteran who says in legal filings that she cannot “work in a facility that performs abortion services for reasons other than to save the life of the mother because … unborn babies are created in the image of God and should be protected.”
The lawsuit was filed on Carter’s behalf by First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit Christian conservative legal group based in Texas. In a statement, officials said the new policy violates a host of religious liberty protections.
“It is unconscionable that the Biden administration would force health care workers at VA facilities to violate their consciences,” said Danielle Runyan, senior counsel for the institute. “The VA should be focused on caring for the men and women who bravely served to protect our country, not on performing illegal abortions.”
The lawsuit (filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas) alleges that allowing abortions at VA facilities “substantially burdens Ms. Carter’s sincerely held religious beliefs and forces her to choose between her job and her religious convictions.”
Carter says she is already facing pressure to promote abortions.
VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes claimed that the pro-life and religious views of VA employees would be respected but the Biden admin has repeatly left pro-life medical workers hanging out to dry and is actively trying to force Christian doctors and nurses to participate in aboritons in other areas.
Biden’s move is already a violation of federal law that prohibits the taxpayer-funded VA medical centers from doing abortions but it also violates the Dobbs decision, whereby the Supreme Court gave states the ability to protect babies from abortions.
During a Congressional hearing, a Biden official said the illegal plan will have VA clinics distributing the dangerous abortion pill that has killed dozens of women and injured thousands — and likely more but the federal government stopped counting the number of deaths and injuries to women.
Medication abortions will be the first type of abortions offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs, said Dr. Shereef Elnahal, the under secretary of health for the VA.
Elnahal said that the VA was concerned about restrictions on women’s health care and abortions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade during the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing Thursday.
“We could simply not contend with that environment of safety for veterans,” Elnahal said. “If these veterans are under our care, and we know that we can save their lives, we have to do it.”
He said federal employees who perform abortions at VA sites will be protected, even if they are working in states that ban the procedures.
Responding to the plan, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Montana) said he’s glad that Alabama and possible other states will file suit against it.
Although VA officials claim many of the abortions will be to save the life of the mother or in difficult medical circumstances, the VA will start with abortion drugs that are virtually never used in such cases and are almost always done for an elective abortion merely to kill the baby. As many as 1,000 babies or more will be killed in abortions whereas requests for abortion in medical emergencies are very rare.
Dr. Amanda Johnson, the VA’s director of women’s reproductive health, said the VA estimated that roughly 1,000 abortions will be now given out each year, with the majority being medication abortions.
The VA reported 10-12 women annually have previously received emergency care when a pregnancy threatens their health each year, but several lawmakers pointed out that the VA excluded abortions and abortion counseling from their benefits package without exception prior to this rule change.
Biden’s move to expand abortion on demand through the Department of Veteran Affairs breaks federal law. It is in violation of Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 which specifically prohibits the VA from providing abortion.
“The Biden Administration is once again pushing taxpayer funding of abortion on demand,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Abortion is not health care, and this rule is in clear violation of existing law.”
“Despite current federal law and regulations, the Biden Administration has made every effort to promote and pay for abortion on demand using taxpayer money,” stated Tobias. “On the issue of abortion, President Biden has demanded a radical ‘whole of government’ response.”
Senator James Lankford, a pro-life Republican from Oklahoma, says the move is illegal and previously sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Denis McDonough to share his concerns. Specifically, Biden’s move is illegal under federal law.
Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 prohibits the VA from providing abortions.
Lankford warns in his letter, “Only Congress can change federal law, and Congress has held for the past 30 years that the VA is not permitted to offer abortion services… Abortion is not and will never be healthcare. Healthcare protects life. Abortion takes life. Instead of promoting the taking of human life, I would challenge you, and others within the VA, to respect the dignity of our veterans and all of their family members, including unborn children, by ensuring services provided and funded by the VA are focused on true healthcare consistent with federal law.”
Under Biden’s proposal, babies will be killed in abortions in cases of rape or incest merely on the word of the woman seeking the abortion, without any report to law enforcement in order to apprehend the rapist or proof that rape or incest had occurred.
Multiple polls over the years show Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions, and most recently a January 2022 Marist poll found that a majority of Americans — 54% — oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life slammed the decision and reiterated that it is illegal, in violation of both federal and state laws. It also noted that McDonough failed to respond Lankford’s letter.
“Shame on Secretary McDonough for caving to Biden and the radical abortion lobby’s demands to violate state and federal law regarding abortion. Abortion is not health care – in fact it carries serious physical and mental health risks – and expanding abortion on demand into the VA is illegal, period,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “This is the latest egregious example of the pro-abortion extremism that has taken over the Democratic Party. Biden himself used to agree taxpayers should never be forced to fund the destruction of innocent life. Now he is head of the most pro-abortion administration in history. There is no law they won’t rewrite or institution they won’t destroy in their drive to impose abortion without limits – even late-term abortions well after unborn children can feel pain – up to the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers, nationwide.
She told LifeNews: “Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism is wildly out of step with the majority of Americans. We will expose them and hold them accountable at the ballot box.”
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