MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced it’s planning to allow abortions at VA locations across the country, including in states like Alabama where the procedure is banned.
VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said in a statement that across the country, roughly 300,000 women are veterans of child-bearing age who use the VA health care system.
Under the new rule submitted to the Federal Register, veterans and their beneficiaries can get abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said in the release when this was announced Friday that “This is a patient safety decision.”
State Sen. Gerald Allen says it conflicts with the Supreme Court.
“It’s in direct conflict with what was handed down recently on the Dobbs Jackson case that basically said the abortion issue belongs to the states,” Allen (R – Tuscaloosa) said.
Allen says the rule also conflicts with Alabama’s 2019 law banning abortion in most all cases. That law took effect in June when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Allen says he hopes to see the VA rule challenged.
“Certainly, there’s going to be challenges as far as states’ rights goes, and as you have noticed in recent days the Biden administration has overreached on every area of our lives,” Allen said.
Political Analyst Steve Flowers says conflict between Alabama and the federal government is nothing new.
“We’ve had this my whole life. Alabama’s always been in constant turmoil with the federal government,’ Flowers said.
But Flowers says the state isn’t likely to win out.
“Federal mandates supersede state mandates, and I think that’s how the courts will see it, too,” Flowers said.
Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement: “I have no intention of abdicating my duty to enforce the Unborn Life Protection Act against any practitioner who unlawfully conducts abortions in the State of Alabama. The power of states to protect unborn life is settled.”
Once the rule is published, there will be a 30-day public comment period, and the VA says it will immediately prepare to provide abortions in as many locations as possible.
Alabama has 20 VA health care locations including medical centers, outpatient clinics and community-based outpatient clinics. It’s unclear how many of them will begin offering abortions once this rule is finalized.