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Tipsheet

It Seems the Biden Administration Has Found Another Way to Go Around Federal Law on Abortion

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Yet another decision to do with the Biden administration on abortion is raising concerns that there is no respect from the White House for the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayers from having to fund abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. As Madeline reported last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing abortions, which also violates the Veterans Healthcare Act of 1992.

According to a press release, abortion counseling and abortions will be provided in instances of not only rape, incest, and life of the mother, but health of the mother as well. 

The Veterans Healthcare Act of 1992 is clear in that it permits the VA to provide "general reproductive health care…but not including…abortions," though the interim final rule has tried to claim otherwise. 

"The determination of whether the 'life and health of the pregnant Veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term' will be made on a case-by-case basis and will be the result of careful consultation between VA health care providers and the Veterans they serve," the press release reads at one point. "In cases of rape or incest, self-reporting from a Veteran or VA beneficiary will constitute sufficient evidence that an act of rape or incest occurred."

The press release also indicated "VA employees, when working within the scope of their federal employment, may provide authorized services regardless of state restrictions." 

Madeline's piece includes a statement from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser criticizing the move, criticizing in part how "Biden himself used to agree taxpayers should never be forced to fund the destruction of innocent life. Now he is head of the most pro-abortion administration in history." Of the administration, Dannenfelser warned "[t]here is no law they won’t rewrite or institution they won’t destroy in their drive to impose abortion without limits – even late-term abortions well after unborn children can feel pain – up to the moment of birth, paid for by taxpayers, nationwide."

Senate Republicans took notice as well, and highlighted other concerns with this move. On Tuesday, the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent out a statement highlighting how the move also violates the Veterans Healthcare Act of 1992 and "represents a change in direction for the White House, which previously said using federal lands to provide abortions would have unspecified 'dangerous ramifications.'"

In a statement, Sen. Rubio said that the "VA should focus on taking care of the brave men and women who served our country. Instead, President Biden is trying to turn local VA facilities into abortion factories. It is grotesque and illegal. The Senate needs to pass my Prohibiting Abortion on Federal Lands Act to protect life and block President Biden from further abusing his presidential power."

Sen. Rubio also further pushed for legislation he introduced in July, the Prohibiting Abortion on Federal Lands Act, which would prevent this or any future administration from performing abortions on federal lands, including the VA.

The senator has been at the forefront of calling out the administration for such moves on abortion, especially in recent months when the White House has made it a preoccupation following the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade with its Dobbs v. Jackson decision. 

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has similarly been sounding the alarm, and issued a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough last month with his concerns. 

In a statement for Townhall, Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), who founded and chairs the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, also confirmed and expressed concern that this administration is violating federal law when it comes to abortion. "President Biden and his administration will stop at nothing--not even the law--as they push their pro-abortion agenda. The latest move to use VA facilities and taxpayer dollars to commit abortions on demand up until the moment of birth is astonishing. This flagrantly violates state & federal law—we must hold the Biden administration accountable," he said. 

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), who is also an OBGYN, spoke out against the move in a statement for Townhall. "This rule is shocking and a violation of the law. No American is going to be happy about President Biden using taxpayer dollars for abortions. This is just the latest example of how extreme the Democrat Party is when it comes to abortions. They want abortions on demand, late-term abortions, and even to kill the baby the minute before birth. This is inconsistent with the values Americans believe in." 

He also called on his colleagues to focus on true family planning. "As an OBGYN, I will stand up for the lives and health of babies and pregnant women by fighting against this most recent cynical attempt by the Biden Administration to abuse federal agencies for the left’s radical abortion agenda. My colleagues across the aisle need to come to their senses, abandon these disturbing schemes that throw the full weight of the federal government behind the abortion industry, and work with Republicans on legislation to expand family planning opportunities that will support mothers and their babies throughout and after pregnancy," Marshall added. 

Sen. Marshall, as was covered last month in an exclusive for Townhall, has also introduced legislation that would prevent the Biden administration from providing illegal immigrants with abortions paid for by taxpayers. 

Since the announcement was made, it appears that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has only once addressed the concerns, briefly. 

During Tuesday's press briefing, a reporter pointed out that "I know we had the conversation in here shortly after the fall of Roe, about this idea of doctors performing abortion procedures on federal land, and even talked about how that wasn’t the best path forward at the time," asking "what changed, and what do you believe is the legal justification to make this happen at VA clinics?"

While Jean-Pierre is often not able to provide sufficient answers, just as she wasn't when concerns arose last month about how Biden's executive order on providing funds for women traveling out of state, this time she blamed it on time. "So I would leave that to the Veterans Affairs Department; that is their decision to make.  And I would refer you to them on that particular question," she merely told the reporter. 

As has long been exposed, the president was once very much in favor of the Hyde Amendment, which must pass every year as a budget rider. Although the administration has fought steadfastly to have it not included, it was ultimately part of the most recent budget. Having not learned his lesson, Biden purposefully left it out of the budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. 

"These services will be authorized immediately after the interim final rule is published, and the rule will be available for public comment for 30 days thereafter. Once the rule is published, VA will immediately prepare to provide these services in as many locations as possible," the press release mentioned.

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