Senators Warren, Hirono, Representative Frankel, Lawmakers Support VA’s New Abortion Rule
Washington, DC – Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Representative Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), along with Democratic Women’s Caucus leadership, Pro-Choice Caucus leadership, led 62 Congressional Democrats in submitting a comment letter in support of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) interim final rule (IFR) allowing VA to provide abortion counseling and, in some cases, abortions, to pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries, while urging the Department to continue working to ensure veterans and beneficiaries can access care beyond only these limited circumstances.
“Like others across the country, veterans face significant barriers to care as extremist lawmakers continue to work to decimate abortion access,” wrote the lawmakers. “Just months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, dozens of states across the country are enforcing and/or passing total or near total abortion bans, with more expected to do so imminently. This is of grave concern as access to abortion care is essential to a woman’s freedom to make decisions about her health and well-being.”
The letter continues, “The IFR is an important first action to ensuring access to this care by providing abortion care for veterans and eligible family members in cases of rape, incest, and in cases of life or health endangerment of the pregnant person. This is especially critical for VA beneficiaries given the high rates of military sexual trauma for service members. Everyone should be able to access abortion care, no matter why they need it or where they obtain their care. There are many reasons why someone might need an abortion, and all of them are valid. We therefore urge VA to continue to work to ensure that veterans can seamlessly access full coverage of abortion care, regardless of the circumstances.”
The letter was endorsed by the National Women's Law Center, NARAL, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and signed by 62 members of the House and Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
As abortion care is under attack from the Supreme Court and right-wing state legislatures, Senator Warren has called on the government to use every tool to protect reproductive care and freedom:
- On September 22, 2022, Senator Warren opened an investigation into how Senate Republicans’ introduction of a proposal to ban abortion nationwide would impact women’s access to critical pregnancy care, reproductive care, and other types of essential health care.
- On September 8, 2022, Senator Warren joined Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) to condemn Republican attacks on the Biden administration’s landmark announcement last week that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will provide abortion care to veterans and their eligible dependents to protect the health and life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest.
- On September 2, 2022, Senators Warren and Hirono applauded the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) announcement that it will begin offering abortion services in certain circumstances.
- On August 10, 2022, Senator Warren opened an investigation into how state abortion bans enacted by right-wing 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 Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) 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 28, 2022, Senators Warren and Hirono (D-Hawaii) led 23 of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents
- On July 21, 2022, Senators Warren and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to Bark Technologies, Gaggle.net, 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, Murray, and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) led a group of their Democratic colleagues in introducing the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, a bill to 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, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and over a dozen other Senate Democrats wrote to President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.
- On July 7, 2022, Senators Warren and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) 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 last month.
- 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 regarding their collection and sale of the cellphone-based location data of people who visit abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood.
- 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.
- On April 28, 2022, Senator Warren delivered a floor speech to fight against Republican efforts to undermine the Title X program and threaten Americans' access to birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, and other health care.
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