15 Republican attorneys general warn against legal challenge to VA abortion policy

Fifteen state attorneys general warn Republicans Department of Veterans Affairs They will “act decisively” if the department’s doctors perform abortions in violation of state law.

in Thursday speech For VA Secretary Dennis McDonough orchestrated by Mississippi Attorney General, prosecutors have argued that the VA abortion policy implemented earlier in these years is “deeply flawed” and that the federal circuit cannot “override state laws that have been duly enacted.”

“We will spare you the VA’s assurances about the limited application of the rule,” the AGs wrote. “We will not allow you to use this rule to establish a system of elective abortion that defies state laws. We are prepared to act decisively against deviation from the terms or promises of the rule. We will duly enforce the laws of the state we have enacted and hold you accountable for violations of federal law.”

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They added, “Those who perform abortions on the basis of the temporary final rule—and in defiance of state or federal laws—do so at their own risk.”

Other states that have signed the letter include Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Indiana,

Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,

Utah and West Virginia.

Asked to comment on the letter, VA spokesperson Terrence Hayes said the department is “committed to providing” veterans of childbearing age “a full range of reproductive health services to ensure their health and well-being.”

As Minister of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough said, “Veterans and Victim Assistance beneficiaries deserve access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most.” That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we’ll deliver in Virginia,” Hayes added.

In September, the Department of Veterans Affairs for the first time began offering abortions in cases of rape, incest, or where the life or health of the mother is at risk to the pregnancy.

The change was in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that revoked abortion rights nationwide. Since June’s decision, at least 13 states have imposed total or near-total bans on abortion, while several others have moved to ban the procedure but have been banned at least temporarily by the courts.

The VA and its allies argue that the department has the authority to provide abortions under a 1996 law that states that the VA “shall provide necessary ‘medicare’ to veterans.”

But congressional Republicans, and U.S. agencies in their letter, argue a 1992 law that directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide reproductive health care except for “infertility services, abortion, or pregnancy care” unless such care is required because of a service-related condition that precludes the administration’s new abortion policy. .

The Department of Justice released a legal analysis supporting the VA’s position that federal law permits the new policy. In the analysis, the DOJ also determined that federal law supersedes state law and that it states that “VA employees may not be penalized for providing such services, whether through criminal prosecution, civil litigation, or license revocation actions.”

But congressional Democrats who support the new policy They warned that the VA staff You may not be protected from state law enforcement.

Alabama’s attorney general, who did not sign the latest letter, had previously suggested he could sue VA doctors who perform abortions in contravention of his state’s law, which disallows abortions in cases of rape or incest.

In addition to citing the 1992 law, the 15 state agents who signed Thursday’s letter argue that the Constitution’s primacy clause, the section stating that federal law takes precedence over state law cited by the DOJ in its analysis, does not apply in this case. That’s because their abortion laws “represent legitimate exercises of traditional state power to ‘serve the legitimate interests of the state’,” they wrote, citing the Dobbs ruling.

“Like many of the administration’s efforts regarding abortion, this new rule is an illegal attempt to take that power away from the people,” the prosecution wrote. This attempt will fail.

Rebecca Kheel can be contacted at rebecca.kheel@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @reporterkheel.

Related: Democratic lawmakers are warning that victim assistance workers who provide abortions may not be protected in some states

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