Going back to September of 2022, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has been ringing the alarm on the Biden administration's work to force taxpayers to fund abortions, a violation of a number of federal laws.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said last fall that it would work toward providing abortion services for veterans and their dependents via its taxpayer-funding health care system.
As Tuberville — who sits on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee — noted at the time, and since then, such a policy would be a violation of federal law, specifically Section 106 of the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 which states the VA system is prohibited from providing abortion services. Yet Tuberville's questions about how such an illegal policy would be implemented and his ongoing attempts to provide oversight for taxpayers have seen no response from the VA or others in the Biden administration.
Biden administration officials have continually refused to answer Tuberville's questions, provide documents in response to repeated requests, or display any modicum of the transparency Biden promised his administration would bring to the federal government.
On Monday, Tuberville — whose persistence in attempts to provide oversight of services provided to veterans has proven tireless — fired off a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough seeking information about the new rule that forces hardworking American taxpayers to fund abortions.
In it, Tuberville explains that he remains "deeply concerned about implementation of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) interim final rule (IFR) on abortion services, published on September 9, 202" and outlined his numerous requests that have gone unanswered.
- On September 21, 2022, Tuberville submitted a question for the record about the V.A. rule's implementation.
- On February 15, 2023, Tuberville again asked for information about the rule.
- On March 15, 2023, Tuberville asked an under secretary for information on the implementation of the rule.
"As of today, I still have not received answers to my questions," Tuberville emphasized.
"As a Member of this Committee, with a duty to provide oversight of services to veterans, taxpayer funding, and effective legislation, I reject the notion that VA can intentionally withhold this information from Congress," he explained after his multiple requests remain unanswered. "I should not have to remind you that Congress is exempt from HIPAA privacy laws; regardless, the information I have requested is wholly quantifiable in nature and does not require private health or personal identifiable information be disclosed," he reminded Secretary McDonough, removing a potential — yet flimsy and irrelevant — excuse.
Again, Tuberville asked for answers to the following questions from the VA "immediately," and no later than May 17:
- Since implementation of the IFR how many abortions has VA facilitated, either at a VA medical facility or in the community?
- How many of the abortions were performed on veterans and how many were performed on CHAMPVA beneficiaries?
- How many of the abortions performed were medication abortions and how many were surgical abortions?
- What was the gestational age of the mother in each of the abortions performed pursuant to the IFR?
- In what states were the abortions performed?
- How many Veterans Care Agreements include provisions related to abortion services? In which states are the providers encompassed by these agreements practicing?
- For each of the abortions performed pursuant to the IFR, which of the four exception categories laid out in the rule were used?
- Of the abortions performed under the health exception, what was the explicit condition or diagnosis that led VA to approve the referral of an abortion under that exception and what was the specialty of the referring provider?
- Please share in full the training materials that have been provided to VA staff and community care providers regarding the IFR and any other materials used to assist VA staff or community care providers in determining whether or not to refer a veteran or CHAMPVA beneficiary for an abortion under the IFR.
- How many VA staff have requested a reasonable accommodation to allow them to opt out of executing any actions pursuant to the IFR due to moral, religious, or other reasons? Of those, how many requests have been approved?
- How much Veterans Health Administration funding has been used to implement this rule?
To be clear, the VA has answers to all of these questions. Most of them are simple numeric values, others are existing documentation and manuals. It would not be difficult for the VA to respond to his question, nor would it have been difficult for the department to provide answers to his previous queries.
The fact that the Biden administration is refusing to respond leaves Americans only to assume the worst, which is a fair assumption to make given its track record so far.