Fifteen states are concerned the Biden Administration intends to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court’s June abortion ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade by turning Veterans Administration hospitals and facilities into abortion clinics in pro-life states that restrict abortions. Those 15 state attorneys general have sent a letter warning the federal government they will sue if that turns out to be the Administration’s plan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs published an “interim final rule” in September stating that because of Dobbs, VA policy would change and now permit some types of abortions to be performed in its facilities. Here’s how the VA explained it:
“In response [to Dobbs], VA is acting to help to ensure that, irrespective of what laws or policies States may impose, veterans who receive the care set forth in the medical benefits package will be able to obtain abortions, if determined needed by a health care professional, when the life or the health of the pregnant veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term or the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest.”
In the letter from the state attorneys general, led by Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch – whose office led the successful defense of that state’s pro-life law in Dobbs – the state AGs express concern that the federal government is attempting to circumvent the pro-life laws of the states where VA facilities are located.
“The rule replays what we, the Attorneys General of 15 States, have come to expect from this Administration’s lawless and hasty executive actions taken at the behest of its political base,” the letter states. “The rule is unlawful. It will not stand in the way of the duly enacted laws of our States or our commitment to enforcing those laws.
“We will watch closely the VA’s use of this rule and we are prepared to act decisively if the VA violates state law, breaks its pledge that the rule operates only in ‘limited circumstances,’ … or defies any other legal requirements.”
The letter notes that prior to the interim final rule, federal law and VA policy prohibited abortions except where the life of the mother was threatened, or in cases of rape or incest. The new rule adds, suspiciously enough, the “health” of the mother as justification for an abortion.
Anyone familiar with the abortion regime created by Roe and its 1973 sister case, Doe v. Bolton is aware that the U.S. Supreme Court defined “health of the mother” to include “physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age” as factors in a woman’s health.
Practically speaking, that left almost no impediment WHATSOEVER to a woman seeking an abortion.
That’s why the pro-life states represented in the letter to the Administration are rightfully concerned about the new VA policy that uses that same word – “health.”
The states also reject the argument that VA facilities on federal land are not subject to state abortion laws.
“But for decades the Supreme Court has ‘decisively rejected the argument that any state regulation which indirectly regulates the Federal Government’s activity is unconstitutional’” the AG letter states, citing Supreme Court precedent to that effect.
The AGs warn they will be watching the Administration’s implementation of the new rule carefully and will not hesitate to challenge the federal government if it crosses a line.
“[W]e will be watching closely the VA’s use of this rule and we will be ready to act if the VA defies the law,” the letter cautions. “We will hold the VA to its promise that the rule authorizes abortions only in “limited circumstances.”
And in case there’s any confusion on the message the state AGs are attempting to pass along, the letter ends emphatically:
“We will hold you to the VA’s representations about the rule’s limited application. 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, the AGs from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia also signed the letter.
In an era when many politicians fear the abortion lobby and its political clout, these AGs have shown the courage and class to draw a line in the sand to defend the people of their states and promote a culture of life. These men and women deserve our praise as well as our support.
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