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House Committee on Veterans Affairs Republicans

Today, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meek (R-Iowa), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and more than 130 Members of Congress, sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, urging the Secretary to maintain the current laws which prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from offering abortions or providing abortion counsel.

“The VA must never use taxpayer dollars to provide abortions or abortion counseling to veterans,” the Members wrote. “To do so would be contrary to the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that generations of veterans fought to defend.”

“I will always stand with my fellow veterans and for the lives of the unborn,” said Ranking Member Bost. “I was proud to join so many of my colleagues in sending this letter to Secretary McDonough reaffirming our commitment to protecting the sanctity of life at VA. Under no circumstance should the Biden Administration consider ending the ban against abortions in VA medical facilities.”

“The VA should prioritize veterans’ mental health and should assist them with injuries sustained during combat. The right to life is sacred and the VA should be focused on protecting that life, not trying to use taxpayer funds to take it away,” said Rep. Matt Rosendale.

“Our veterans deserve all our thanks for their service and sacrifice to our nation. These American heroes have selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to defend us and our freedom. While we can never fully repay our veterans for their sacrifices, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was created to serve our veterans the way they answered the call to serve our country. It would be a disservice to our veterans — who fought to protect innocent Americans — to have the VA use taxpayer money to kill unborn babies by providing abortions or abortion counseling. This goes against our veterans’ defense of the right to life and protecting the voiceless,” said Republican Whip, Steve Scalise.

“Abortion is not health care, it’s a brutal procedure that harms women and ends the lives of unborn children through suction, dismemberment or chemical poisoning,” said Rep. Chris Smith. “Current law clearly prevents the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for abortion, and we expect the Administration to focus instead on providing the true quality health care that veterans have earned and deserve.”

Full text of the letter the Members sent can be found here and below:

The Honorable Denis R. McDonough

Secretary

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write to make you aware of a legal prohibition against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) providing abortion and to encourage you to embrace life-affirming policies and practices for our nation’s veterans in your work as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

As you know, 38 Code of Federal Regulations §17.38(c)(1) prohibits VA from offering abortion or abortion counseling to veteran patients. During a recent hearing before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, you stated that you do not plan to pursue public rulemaking to amend that regulation and add abortion or abortion counseling to VA’s medical benefits package. We applaud that assurance. It is undoubtedly the right decision for veterans and their unborn children. However, we wanted to make you aware that, in addition to that regulatory prohibition, VA is also prohibited from providing abortion in law. Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 (Public Law 102-585) authorized VA to provide certain health care services to women veterans but specifically prohibited VA from providing abortions. That prohibition remains law.

It is our belief – and the law maintains – that VA must never use taxpayer dollars to provide abortion services or abortion counseling to veterans. To do so would be contrary to the God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that generations of veterans fought to defend. We trust that you agree and that you will continue to protect and preserve the sanctity of life at VA.

Thank you for your attention to this matter and for your commitment to the men and women who have served.

[END]

In addition to strong congressional support, the letter received praise from a number of pro-life groups including Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, and the Family Research Council.

“We thank Reps. Matt Rosendale, Mike Bost, Chris Smith, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks for leading this important effort to ensure existing laws that stop forced taxpayer funding of abortion on demand are enforced. It is shameful that the pro-abortion Biden-Harris administration needs such a reminder – these longstanding protections are not a suggestion; they are law and reflect the will of the American people. Our veterans have fought bravely to defend American lives and values…using VA taxpayer dollars to promote abortion would be a great disservice to these men and women and to our nation,” said Marilyn Musgrave, Vice President of Government Affairs, Susan B. Anthony List.

“March for Life Action applauds the letter led by Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), along with Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike Bost (R-IL), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), for reminding Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis R. McDonough that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is prohibited by law (P.L. 102-585) from paying for abortions. The men and women who have honorably defended this country dedicated their lives to defending life. The VA even suggesting that taxpayer dollars provide abortions or abortion counseling to veterans is an insult to their sacrifice,” said Tom McClusky, President, March for Life Action.

“Because abortion is not health care and is the taking of an innocent, unborn child’s life, federal law and regulations prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from providing abortions or abortion counseling to veterans. To do otherwise would violate the conscience rights of millions of Americans and would be an offense against the men and women who have so bravely fought to preserve our nation’s freedoms. Family Research Council is grateful to Congressman Rosendale, Congressman Bost, and Congressman Smith for their vigilance and efforts to defend unborn babies and protect tax-payer’s dollars by reiterating the prohibitions on abortion and abortion counseling to the Denis McDonough, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Mary Szoch, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Family Research Council.

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