The Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to provide abortions to veterans and their eligible beneficiaries in cases of rape, incest, and pregnancies where the woman's life or health is at risk, the Military Times is reporting.
It would mark the first time VA doctors could perform abortions on federal property, including in the states where the procedure has been outlawed, according to the Times.
A proposed rule was submitted to the Federal Register on Thursday night that would permit VA healthcare providers to coordinate abortions with private medical offices in states where the procedure is allowed. The rule spells out that counseling would be provided on options to all pregnant veterans and their eligible beneficiaries.
Authorization for the abortion procedures could come as soon as next week, pending publication by federal officials and potential legal challenges.
"Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most," VA Secretary Denis McDonough said. "That's what our nation owes them, and that's what we at VA will deliver."
It'ss unclear when and where procedures may take place, the Times noted. VA officials said they will prepare to provide services in "as many locations as possible" after the rule has been published.
About 2 million women veterans live in the U.S. In addition, dependents enrolled in VA's Civilian Health And Medical Program would also be eligible for certain abortion services, the Times said.
Officials acknowledged they do not know how many women may qualify for abortion procedures. The Times, however, pointed out that Republican lawmakers have strongly opposed the idea.
But progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had floated the broader idea that abortions could be performed on federal lands after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had said in June that the general notion of using federal lands to perform abortions in states that restrict the procedure could lead to "dangerous ramifications."
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