The branch of the federal government charged with caring for the health of military veterans is setting up a policy under which it could provide abortion counseling and services to former servicemembers, in some instances even in states that have recently banned the procedure.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has submitted an “interim final rule”, essentially a draft of policy it plans to put in place, under which it would provide abortion services to veterans specifically in the case of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother, the document says. The public has 30 days to offer comment on the draft policy, which was submitted to the Federal Register on Friday. After that comment period, the rule goes into effect automatically.
The draft rule specifically references the Supreme Court’s ruling in June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that a conservative majority of justices used to strike down earlier rulings that provided for a constitutional right to abortion all across the nation.
“After Dobbs, certain States have begun to enforce existing abortion bans and restrictions on care, and are proposing and enacting new ones, creating urgent risks to the lives and health of pregnant veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries in these States. In response, VA is acting to help to ensure that, irrespective of what laws or policies States may impose, veterans who receive the care set forth in the medical benefits package will be able to obtain abortions, if determined needed by a health care professional, when the life or the health of the pregnant veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest,” the rule reads.
Since the Court’s abortion decision leaked in draft form in April, the federal government, women’s health advocates and legislatures in some states have pushed to find ways to allow women access to the procedure, while many other states have enacted total or near total bans on abortion.