The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to offer abortion services to veterans and dependents covered by VA health care in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life or health of the mother, officials announced September 1, 2022.

In a proposed rule sent to the Federal Register, the VA said it will lift its ban on abortion counseling and established exceptions to its abortion restrictions at VA medical facilities and through its Civilian Health and Medical Program, known as CHAMPVA.

This new ruling marks the first time VA physicians will be allowed to perform abortions on federal property, and they will be able to do so in states where the procedure is illegal.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough has maintained that the VA has always had the legal authority to provide abortions and counseling, saying the department is not “statutorily prohibited,” and has not provided them only because they were not included in the department’s medical benefits package.

McDonough also stated that “Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most.”  VA employees, when working within the scope of their federal employment, may provide authorized services regardless of state restrictions.

VA will also continue to provide access to a full range of reproductive health services, including fertility services, contraceptives including emergency contraceptives, life-saving treatment related to pregnancy, and much more.

This proposal would go into effect as soon as it is published in the Federal Register. However, it will be subjected to public comment and could be opposed through legal action.