VA to offer abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to health

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The Department of Veterans Affairs will, in a historic shift, provide abortion counseling and abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the pregnancy threatens the health of the pregnant veteran, at its federal health facilities nationwide, including in states that prohibit or strictly restrict the practice, the department announced on Friday.

Under a draft rule change, the new policy will overhaul the health care provided to 9 million veterans and eligible family members; VA previously did not offer abortions of any kind or offer abortion advice to patients considering the procedure.

There are 2 million female veterans in the United States, according to VA data, and about a quarter of them are enrolled in VA care.

“VA serves approximately 300,000 women of childbearing age, and female veterans are VA’s fastest-growing cohort,” VA spokesman Terrence Hayes said in an email. Once the rule is published, Hayes said VA will “prepare immediately to provide these services in as many locations as possible.”

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VA Secretary Denis McDonough called the change in a statement “a decision about patient safety.”

“Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most. Our nation owes them that, and that’s what we at VA will deliver,” McDonough said.

Veterans advocates welcomed the change as an extension of veteran health care.

“Increasing veterans’ access to timely and quality healthcare should always be a top priority for the VA,” said Jeremy Butler, the chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America, in an email.

Other proponents, such as Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who sits on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, praised the VA change while criticizing Republican lawmakers for shaping the restrictive reproductive rights landscape many Americans are now facing. faced.

“For the first time ever, the Veterans Health Administration will finally be able to provide abortion care to ensure that none of our veterans or their eligible persons experience medical emergencies — or remain pregnant after rape or incest — simply because Republican politicians they think they know what’s best for them,” Murray said in a statement.

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, criticized the announcement.

“This proposal violates long-standing, established law and a complete administrative oversight,” he said in a statement. “I am against it and I am already working to put an end to it.”

The VA move comes two months since federal protection through the milestone Roe v. Wade decision were quashed by the Supreme Court. Shereef Elnahal, VA’s undersecretary for health, said in a statement that VA made the change after speaking with veterans and health care providers who “sounded the alarm” about state-level restrictions introduced after roe was overthrown created a health risk for veterans and their families.

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While the new policy is an extension of health care benefits for veterans, the regulations are very similar to existing care within the Department of Defense, which offers abortions in military hospitals with the same criteria. Active military care is underutilized, with fewer than two dozen abortions on average per year, according to Pentagon data.

Still, advocates have urged lawmakers and defense officials to remove obstacles to elective abortions, pointing to military bases in many states that ban all abortions and the difficulty of traveling long distances. VA described a similar problem in the draft policy, saying that some veterans and family members “may no longer be able to receive such medical services in their communities.”

Under the new VA policy, medical providers will determine on a case-by-case basis what meets the criteria of a pregnancy endangering the health of the pregnant person’s life. Veterans wishing to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest only need to file a report themselves and do not have to submit any documentation, such as a police report, the department said.

With the department offering abortion services for the first time, it’s unclear how quickly VA facilities will be able to attract doctors who can perform the procedure, especially in states where abortion is significantly restricted. One solution could be to seek care in civilian hospitals if veterans and eligible family members are eligible. VA would pay the bill in those cases.

Abortion is now banned in these states. See where laws have changed.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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