July 28, 2022

Wyden, Colleagues Urge VA to Immediately Offer Abortion Services to Veterans and Eligible Dependents

With millions of veterans in states facing uncertain abortion access, the VA must exercise its authority to protect veterans’ reproductive rights

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today joined Senate colleagues to call on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately offer abortions and abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents.

Last month’s disastrous Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization…makes it even more critical that veterans receive access to the reproductive care to which they are entitled. Thus, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must urgently begin rulemaking to allow veterans and eligible dependents to receive abortions and all abortion-related services,” Wyden and colleagues wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. 

Under current VA regulations, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is prohibited from providing abortions and abortion counseling as part of the medical benefits package, leaving the over 800,000 women veterans in states certain or likely to ban abortion without reproductive healthcare. Under the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, however, the VA secretary has the statutory authority to begin providing new forms of healthcare to veterans and eligible dependents. Given this discretion, Wyden and colleagues wrote, the VA must immediately begin a rulemaking process to change the current regulations and update the VHA’s medical benefit package to provide abortion and abortion-related services.

The letter was led by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Alongside Wyden, the letter was joined by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., Angus King, I-Maine, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Chris Van Holllen, D-Md., Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

The full text of the letter is here.