Battle Between States and Feds Over Abortion Heats Up

Joe Biden

( – The attorneys general of fifteen Republican-led states have sent a letter to the US Department of Veteran Affairs warning it not to perform abortions in violation of their state laws.

The warning sent to VA Secretary Denis McDonough at the end of last week was spearheaded by Lynn Fitch, the attorney general of Mississippi.

The letter was also signed by the GOP AGs of Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

In it, the fifteen AGs blasted the Veteran Affairs Department’s abortion policy as “deeply flawed” while declaring a federal department could not “override duly enacted state laws,” in this case – to offer abortions to service personnel.

“We will hold you to the VA’s representations about the rule’s limited application,” the attorneys general warned, as cited by Newsmax.

“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,” they stated.

“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 Republican state AGs stressed.

The VA started offering abortions in September after in June, the US Supreme Court ruled to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and once again made abortion a state-level issue.

A reaction by VA spokesman Terrance Hayes to the Republican AG’s letter seemed to defy their warning.

Hayes told the department was “committed to providing [veterans] the full range of reproductive health services to ensure their health and well-being.”

“As VA Secretary Denis McDonough has said, ‘Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most.’ That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we at VA will deliver,” the spokesman added.

At least 13 states have instituted partial or complete abortion bans since the June Supreme Court ruling, and several others have imposed temporary measures to that end.

The Biden administration’s VA Department claims it can offer abortions based on a 1996 law stipulating it should provide veterans with “needed” medical care. Yet, these terms remain subject to interpretation.

Biden’s Justice Department has supported the VA’s stance and has said states “may not penalize VA employees for providing such services, whether through criminal prosecution, civil litigation or license revocation proceedings.”

The fifteen Republican attorneys general, however, insisted abortion laws “represent legitimate exercises of traditional state authority to ‘serve legitimate state interests.”

“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,” they wrote.