Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who was instrumental in overturning Roe v. Wade, and 14 other state attorneys general warned the Biden administration Thursday that they will sue if VA hospitals start aborting unborn babies in violation of their state pro-life laws.
Bloomberg Law reports their letter to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said the Biden administration cannot “override” their abortion bans through federal land, citing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
On Sept. 9, President Joe Biden issued a new rule that requires Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to provide taxpayer-funded abortions “regardless of state restrictions” – a clear violation of the law, the attorneys generals said.
“This VA rule is one of two things,” Fitch said. “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.”
Attorneys general from Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia also signed the letter, Desoto County News reports. All of these states are enforcing laws that protect unborn babies by banning abortions or are expected to do so soon. Most states are battling legal challenges from the abortion industry, and judges have blocked some of their laws.
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In the letter, the state leaders warned McDonough that they will take action to defend unborn babies if the administration tries to thwart their life-saving laws through VA hospitals.
“We will not allow you to use this rule to erect a regime of elective abortions that defy state laws,” they wrote. “… Those who perform abortions based on the interim final rule – and in defiance of state or federal laws – do so at their own risk.”
The Biden administration claims the rule only applies to abortions in “limited circumstances”: rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life or health. However, “health” can be broadly defined and statements from department leaders suggest abortions will be allowed more broadly.
The attorneys general promised to “watch closely” to make sure the administration sticks to its word that abortions will be “limited” to those only already allowed under their state laws.
“The fact that states already soundly legislate on this subject tends to confirm that the real motivation behind the rule is to create a mechanism for allowing purely elective abortions that states have appropriately prohibited …” the letter states. “Indeed, the administration’s political allies have expressed their desire for the rule to create a federal abortion regime in defiance of the democratic lawmaking process.”
All pro-life laws allow abortions when the mother’s life is at risk and, in some states, cases of rape and incest. These make up a very small percent of all abortions in the U.S. Research from the Charlotte Lozier Institute found about 96 percent of abortions are for purely elective reasons.
Prior to the new rule, VA regulations “expressly excluded” elective abortions and abortion counseling from veterans’ medical benefits package, the state leaders continued. The only exception was for the rare cases when a mother’s life was at risk in a medical emergency.
Fitch and the other attorneys general also reminded the Biden administration that VA hospitals must uphold medical workers’ conscience rights if they refuse to participate in abortions.
Quoting the Dobbs ruling, they told the Biden administration: “Like many of the administration’s abortion-related efforts, this new rule is an unlawful attempt to wrest that authority from the people. That attempt will fail.”
U.S. Veterans Affairs Department estimated about 1,000 unborn babies would be aborted under the new rule every year.
Federal Republican lawmakers and pro-life leaders also are fighting against the pro-abortion rule, pointing to Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, which prohibits the VA from providing abortions.
In a separate letter earlier this fall, U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, told the department that the rule is illegal.
“Only Congress can change federal law, and Congress has held for the past 30 years that the VA is not permitted to offer abortion services…” the pro-life lawmaker wrote. “Abortion is not and will never be healthcare. Healthcare protects life. Abortion takes life. Instead of promoting the taking of human life, I would challenge you, and others within the VA, to respect the dignity of our veterans and all of their family members, including unborn children, by ensuring services provided and funded by the VA are focused on true healthcare consistent with federal law.”
Multiple polls over the years show Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions, including a January 2022 Marist poll that found 54 percent oppose taxpayer funding of abortions.