EPPC Scholars and Others Oppose Department of Veterans Affairs Rule Requiring Taxpayer Funded Abortion Benefits

October 12, 2022

Yesterday, EPPC scholars Rachel N. Morrison and Natalie Dodson submitted a public comment opposing an interim final rule (IFR) issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that would include taxpayer-funded medical benefits coverage for abortion and abortion counseling for veterans and certain beneficiaries. An IFR may only be issued with “good cause” because it goes into immediate effect before the public provides its input. 

The comment explains, “Without demonstrating ‘good cause,’ the VA immediately and unlawfully amended its regulations to remove the statutorily required exclusions on abortion and abortion counseling …. Under the IFR, American taxpayers must now pay for abortion and abortion counseling 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.’ An undefined health exception functionally allows abortion on demand until birth.” 

The IFR is the latest lawless attempt by the Biden administration to use the federal government and taxpayer dollars to promote and pay for abortions. Conspicuously missing from the IFR is any discussion of the unborn child or the irreparable harm of the loss of life for those children as a result of abortion authorized and funded by the VA. 

The scholars argue: “The VA’s claim that abortion under the IFR is ‘needed’ and ‘medically necessary and appropriate’ is arbitrary and capricious. Abortion is not healthcare, abortion harms women, and women do not need abortion to succeed.” 

The VA claims the IFR preempts state laws protecting the innocent lives of unborn children. But the IFR amounts to nothing more than the VA’s political disagreement with Congressional limitations, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, and state abortion laws and policy. Such disagreement is insufficient to preempt state law by administrative fiat. 

As the scholars summarize: “In short, the IFR is contrary Congressional direction, violates the VA’s statutory authority, and should be rescinded immediately.” 

Various medical professionals and legal and policy experts also submitted comments opposing the VA’s Interim Final Rule. 

About the EPPC comment signers: 

Rachel N. Morrison, J.D., is an EPPC Fellow, member of the HHS Accountability Project, and former attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Natalie Dodson is a Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Associate and member of EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project

Other organizations and experts submitting comments opposing the VA’s IFR include: 

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