Department of Veterans Affairs To Begin Providing Abortion Care

Special to the Patriot-Bridge

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) announcement that it will begin offering abortion services in certain circumstances. In July, Senators Warren and Hirono led 23 of their colleagues to call on VA to immediately begin offering abortion services after the far-right Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Because of the Dobbs decision, over 800,000—or half of women veterans in this country—live in states that are certain or likely to ban abortions.

“As the far-right Supreme Court and right-wing legislators work to eliminate the fundamental right to abortion, the federal government, including the VA, must do more to protect abortion access. That’s why we led our colleagues in calling on the VA to provide abortion care to the veterans it serves, millions of whom now live in states where abortion access has been restricted.

“We’re glad to see the VA quickly heeding our calls to begin offering abortion services in instances of rape, incest, and the life of a mother. This is an important first step. The VA must go further and provide these services to all veterans, regardless of circumstances. It’s critical that women are trusted and free to make decisions about their bodies,” said Senators Warren and Hirono. 

In addition to Senators Warren and Hirono, the July 28 letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

As access to abortion care and health care is under attack by the extremist Supreme Court and Republican state legislatures, Senator Warren has called on the government to use every tool to expand and protect reproductive care:

• On August 10, 2022, Senator Warren opened an investigation into how state abortion bans enacted by rightwing legislators have affected women’s access to urgent and critical pregnancy care, reproductive care, and even non-reproductive health care. She wrote to five leading organizations representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers to gather more information: the American Medical Association, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Nurses United, the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Hospital Association.

• On August 5, 2022, Senator Warren spoke on the floor of the Senate about the need to crack down on the deceptive and misleading practices employed by many crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Senator Warren also spoke on the need to bring the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act up for a vote. The legislation would direct the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising that many CPCs use to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need, including abortion care. 

• On August 4, 2022, Senators Warren, Hirono, and Baldwin sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), outlining concrete actions HHS can take to help meet President Biden’s goal of protecting and expanding access to medication abortion.

• On July 21, 2022, Senators Warren and Markey sent letters to Bark Technologies,, GoGuardian, and Securly Inc., raising concerns that the software these companies use to monitor students’ online activity could be used to criminalize or punish students who are seeking information about abortion services and reproductive health care.

• On July 19, 2022, Senators Warren, Smith, and Murray, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, introduced the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, legislation that would protect access to critical reproductive health care services—like birth control, cancer screenings, and more—by providing a consistent and strong source of funding for the Title X Family Planning Program.

• On July 14, 2022, Senators Warren, Booker, Padilla, and over a dozen Senate Democrats wrote to President Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.

• On July 11, 2022, Senators Warren and Klobuchar sent letters to Facebook and Instagram, calling on them to address their reported censorship of posts related to abortion services, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

• On July 7, 2022, Senator Warren announced two key data brokers’ commitments to permanently stop selling the location data of people seeking abortion services.

• On June 23, 2022, Senators Warren and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) introduced the Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act, legislation that would crack down on false advertising that crisis pregnancy centers employ to dissuade patients from getting the reproductive care they need, including abortion care. 

• On June 22, 2022, following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Senators Warren and Smith wrote an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the next steps in the fight to protect the right to an abortion, including calling for the declaration of a public health emergency.

• On June 15, 2022, Senator Warren introduced the Health and Location Data Protection Act, legislation that bans data brokers from selling some of the most sensitive data available about everyday Americans: their health and location data. 

• On June 7, 2022, Senators Warren and Murray led 23 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.

• On May 17, 2022, Senator Warren led thirteen of her Senate colleagues in letters to two data brokers, demanding answers about their collection and sale of the cellphone-based location data of people who visit abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood. 

• On May 12, 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee in a letter urging Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III to protect military service members’ abortion rights. 

• On May 10, 2022, Senator Warren delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate on the need to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, and fight back against Republican extremism. 

• On May 9, 2022, Senator Warren wrote an op-ed in Marie Claire about the need to enshrine the right to an abortion in federal law. 

• On May 3, 2022, when the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked, Senator Warren spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court twice to activists, protestors, and the nation about the need to protect abortion rights. 

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