House Republicans are considering issuing a subpoena to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain detailed data on the department’s policy to offer abortions to veterans under certain conditions.
Although the VA has shared data on the number of abortions provided twice, the most recent data indicates 54 procedures from September 2022 to April 30, as reported by Military.com.
However, the Republican members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee have expressed a desire for quarterly updates and more comprehensive data. The VA has expressed reservations, highlighting concerns over patient privacy.
In a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Committee Chair Mike Bost (R-IL) and the Health Subpanel Chair, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), have emphasized the public’s right to this information. The letter also includes a deadline and potential subpoena threat if the requested data isn’t shared.
After a Supreme Court decision allowing states to limit abortions, the VA provided the procedure in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life or health is endangered. Republicans challenge the “health” justification, suggesting it could conflict with the Hyde Amendment, which restricts government-funded abortions.
The VA maintains the Hyde Amendment does not bind it and has not clarified which health issues would make a veteran eligible for the procedure.
Based on Military.com’s reporting, of the 54 abortions provided by the VA by April, most were due to health concerns. A detailed breakdown shows 44 for health reasons, two because of life-threatening conditions, and eight due to rape. The majority of these procedures were medication-induced.
There’s a debate over the legality of the VA’s policy. Critics argue it breaches a 1992 directive excluding specific reproductive services. Supporters, however, believe a 1996 mandate allows the VA to provide necessary medical care, including abortions.
Earlier in the year, Bost and Miller-Meeks sought specific details on the abortions, including the trimester and the precise health reasons when applicable. While the VA offered general figures, they felt detailed information could compromise patient identity.
The two Republican representatives emphasize patient privacy as crucial but believe the specifics they seek are essential for potential legislation considerations. They express frustration at the VA’s lack of detailed response to their inquiries.