WASHINGTON (BP) – An effort to overturn a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policy to expand abortion services to veterans has been defeated. The Senate voted against the measure by a 51-48 margin Wednesday (Apr. 19) with Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting with Democrats in the majority.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., spoke from the senate floor before the vote, “Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for abortions. Especially not when this was done without anybody taking a vote in this building. Especially not when Congress voted to make it illegal 30 years ago. It’s illegal and it’s wrong.”
The VA interim rule – which went into effect Sept. 9 when it was published in the Federal Register – is another in a series of actions by President Biden and his administration in an effort to offset the Supreme Court’s June overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion throughout the country.
“It is disappointing to see a majority of Senators reject an opportunity to stand for the dignity of life. Our military exists to protect life — not to promote the ending of American lives at the expense of American taxpayers,” said Hannah Daniel, policy manager for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The ERLC expressed its opposition to a new interim final rule (IFR) issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs that explicitly lifts a 30-year-old restriction on abortions.
In a letter, the Southern Baptist entity told VA Secretary Denis McDonough the interim rule forces taxpayers to fund the taking of preborn human lives, disregards a congressional ban on abortions by the department and violates the religious freedom of healthcare workers.
Daniel said the entity will continue to push lawmakers to reverse the policy, “… we will continue to advocate against this policy through the appropriations process.”