September 07, 2022

Duckworth, Hirono, Colleagues Applaud Landmark Abortion Access Measure for Veterans Amid Republican Attacks

Following SCOTUS’ disastrous Dobbs decision, roughly half of women Veterans in the U.S. live in states that have or are likely to ban abortion


[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) condemned Republican attacks on the Biden Administration’s landmark decision last week to allow the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to provide abortion care to Veterans and their eligible dependents to protect the health and life of the woman and in cases of rape or incest. The action comes after, Duckworth joined Hirono and more of their Democratic colleagues in urging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to immediately begin providing abortion services for Veterans and eligible dependents following the far-right Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

“I applaud Secretary McDonough’s leadership to help make sure that our Veterans have full access to the healthcare they need—including abortions. This decision could both save lives and enhance military recruitment and readiness,” said Duckworth. “Our Veterans—who often have higher rates of chronic health conditions—have sacrificed the unimaginable for our nation and the last thing they should worry about is that our country will abandon them, risk their health and deny their fundamental rights. Just as we owe our Veterans the right to pursue having a family however they choose, we owe the heroes who risked everything overseas access to medically necessary care back at home—and for some Veterans, that includes abortions—and I’ll keep working to make sure this right is protected for all Americans.”

“Following the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling overturning the right to an abortion, nearly half of female veterans in this country live in states that are certain or likely to ban abortion, which is why we led our colleagues in calling on the VA to provide abortion services to the veterans it serves. 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 decision is an important step—one that will save lives,” said Hirono. “But instead of applauding the VA, Republicans are falsely claiming that this ruling is ‘contrary to long-standing, settled law.’ They are using fear and confusion to sow chaos and deprive women of their fundamental rights, instead of standing up for the veterans who have served our country. It’s shameful—and we’ll keep fighting back every day.”

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. Prior to last week’s announcement, VA was prohibited from providing any abortion care or abortion counseling. Despite the landmark step forward to protect women’s health, Republicans have stated they will seek to block the VA’s efforts to provide abortion care in medical emergencies or case of rape or incest. Republicans in Congress have made clear they are “working to put a stop to” the policy announced by the Biden Administration and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has even vowed to enforce his state’s abortion ban against VA doctors providing care in accordance with the new rule.

The lawmakers were joined by Allison Jaslow, an Iraq War Veteran and co-founder of Operation Liberty, a Veteran-led, non-partisan effort to protect the reproductive freedom of U.S. servicemembers and Veterans after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe.