Fitch, AGs challenge VA abortion rule
A coalition of 15 Attorneys General, led by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, wrote Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough to challenge a new rule providing access to abortions and abortion counseling at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities for veterans and CHAMPVA beneficiaries.
“In its Dobbs opinion, the Supreme Court recognized that Roe v Wade had illegitimately taken the authority to regulate abortion from the people without any Constitutional basis,” said Fitch. “This VA rule is one of two things: It is either a lawless attempt to subvert Dobbs and institute a national regime of elective abortion over legitimate state laws prohibiting that or, if it is really as limited as the fine print says, it is a cynical attempt to appease the President’s political base. Either way, President Biden needs to know that we will not hesitate to defend our state laws and the Constitution.”
On July 8, 2022, President Biden issued an executive order directing a cross-government initiative to undo the Supreme Court’s decision earlier that day in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Dobbs decision returned abortion policy making to the people through their elected representatives. In response to the President’s directive, on September 9, the VA adopted a new interim rule that makes taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling available for certain veterans and beneficiaries. Those services had previously been expressly excluded from the medical benefits package under VA regulations.
In their letter, the Attorneys General put Secretary McDonough on notice that they are prepared to act if the Administration uses this rule to circumvent state laws regulating abortion:
“We will not allow you to use this rule to erect a regime of elective abortions that defy state laws. We stand ready to move decisively against departures from the rule’s terms or its promises. And we will enforce our duly enacted state laws and hold you accountable for violations of federal law. Those who perform abortions based on the interim final rule – and in defiance of state or federal laws – do so at their own risk.”
In addition to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, the letter was signed by Attorneys General from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.
The letter can be found here.