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Veterans Deserve Complete and Full Access to Reproductive Health Care

Diarra Diouf's picture

October 5, 2022

Reproductive and human rights are under attack for everyone in our nation since the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade. This includes reproductive rights for veterans. 

Veterans have been there for all of us when we needed them most and now it’s time to support them in return. Right now we have a chance to safeguard reproductive rights and services–including abortion–for our veterans but we need your help! 

*Sign our letter commending the Department of Veteran Affairs for their efforts to ensure access to abortion care and encourage them to ensure reproductive justice for *all* veterans.

Here’s the background: In a historic move, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) recently proposed a new rule [1] to ensure that veterans have access to abortion care regardless of if they live in a state with anti-abortion restrictions. You’re probably thinking, “This is great news and technically less restrictive than the existing laws in certain states!” and it is!  However, it is also critical that we encourage the VA to take their solutions even further by expanding the ruling to include abortion care for all veterans regardless of the circumstance. 

In short, the VA needs to expand the rule because the current proposed rule states that abortion care can only be sought by those in an circumstance in which a person was raped, became pregnant as a result of incest, or could potentially die due to pregnancy or giving birth. Now, because this proposed rule is in motion, we have a unique opportunity to publicly share our thoughts on this matter as the Biden-Harris Administration is currently accepting comments on why abortion care for veterans is critical healthcare. This is where you come in!

We appreciate the VA for their efforts to ensure that veterans and their dependents have access to the essential reproductive healthcare they need. It is a step in the right direction and it also holds the line at a time when abortion rights are severely under attack. We must also encourage the Department to drop the harmful restrictions around the narrow circumstances in which a person may seek abortion care so all people can access the healthcare they need and deserve.

*Use your voice! → Applaud the Department of Veteran Affairs for taking the first step in protecting reproductive rights and encourage them to drop the restrictions so that all veterans have access to quality abortion care services regardless of their circumstance. Your signature and comments will be included in our letter to the Secretary for Health of the VA.

The Department’s affirmed decision was a direct solution to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and attempt to protect those who seek care and post-abortion services under VA care, however so many people in need are left out and unprotected because of the its severe restrictions. The Veteran Health Administration (VHA) is the largest integrated health care system in the country serving approximately 6.5 million veterans and their dependents annually. According to a study conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health, “​​US servicewomen have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy than civilian women, yet the military does not provide or cover abortion, except in limited circumstances. Servicewomen's experiences with abortion care have received little research attention.” [2]  

The Department of Veteran Affairs is not bound by the Hyde Amendment, a bill enacted 43 years ago that restricts government funds from being used to cover abortion—except in extremely limited circumstances—nor are they required by any provision to enact such restrictions on abortion services. Furthermore, the VA has the authority to lift them at any time. We must convey to the Department that the decision to keep these severe restrictions in place is harmful. Patients without protections are being forced to travel long distances out of state to receive care. The reality is that many, if not most, are unable to travel and are being forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will, a grave violation of their human rights. Unattainable access to abortion care creates hardships for many veterans, particularly women of reproductive age and their families, due to out-of-pocket costs associated with noncovered abortions, and career impacts related to unwanted pregnancies, meaning, women are being forced to choose between a paycheck to put food on the table and giving birth. [3]

*Urge the VA to drop the severe restrictions around the narrow circumstance in which abortion care can be provided. *Click here to sign our letter*

Those that have vowed to serve and protect our country and their families deserve complete and full access to abortion care services, post-procedure counseling, and equitable and competent reproductive healthcare! Together, we can make a change.

In Solidarity,

- Diarra, Tina, Elyssa, Monifa, and the whole & MamásConPoder Team



[1] A Rule by the Veterans Affairs Department on 09/09/2022
[2] Abortion knowledge and experiences among US servicewomen: A qualitative study
[3] FY2023 NDAA: Military Abortion Policies

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