For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Contact: Nazneen Ahmed
(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed comments supporting an interim final rule from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that would give veterans and their beneficiaries broader access to reproductive health care. The change will help veterans and their families access abortion counseling for all pregnancies and access abortion services when the mother’s life or health is in danger or when she reports the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
“It is wrong to ask our servicemembers to risk their lives for us, yet fail to give them the health care they need,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I appreciate the steps the VA is taking to make sure servicemembers can get abortions in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. And as North Carolina is one of the last states in the South where a woman can access a safe and lawful abortion, expanding protections for veterans will also help reduce the strain on our health care system.”
Since the Dobbs decision, at least 14 states have banned or restricted abortion care, while others are still proposing new restrictions. The rule explains that these restrictions put at risk “the lives and health of pregnant veterans and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) beneficiaries in these States.” In response, the VA rule seeks to ensure that veterans and their families, regardless of where they live, may obtain medically necessary abortion care.
In the comment letter, a coalition of 23 attorneys general support the VA’s effort to remove barriers to this essential medical care. The rule fills a significant gap in health care for an important population, offering veterans and their families access to the same health care services available to many civilians. The rule will impact an estimated 53 percent, or more than 240,000, of U.S. servicemembers and veterans of reproductive age living in states that have already banned abortion or are likely to soon ban abortion. Veterans of reproductive age, in particular, have high rates of chronic medical and mental conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, severe hypertension, and renal disease—all of which could increase the health risks associated with pregnancy. It is critical that these veterans are provided with the tools to protect their lives and wellbeing, including a full range of reproductive care and counseling and medically-necessary abortion care.
The coalition of attorneys general also contend that the VA’s rule is a necessary step to alleviate the strain on the health care infrastructure of states that protect abortion. North Carolina, one of the few remaining states in the southern United States to allow safe and legal abortion, is becoming a haven for those in need of abortion care in surrounding states. This increases waiting times for this time-sensitive care. By expanding access to abortions for veterans and their family members across the nation, this rule will help states protect their residents’ health.
Attorney General Stein is joined in filing this comment letter by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.
More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect women’s reproductive freedoms:
- Attorney General Josh Stein Protects Women’s Reproductive Freedom
- Attorney General Josh Stein Continues to Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights
- Attorney General Josh Stein and Congresswoman Deborah Ross Commit to Protecting Reproductive Care in North Carolina
- Attorney General Josh Stein Will Not Ask Court to Limit Women’s Freedom
- Attorney General Josh Stein Reacts to Supreme Court Decision on Abortion