A nurse practitioner who works at a Veterans Center in Texas is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over a new rule that would force health care workers to participate in abortions over their conscience objections.
Stephanie Carter, who works at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center in Temple, Texas, filed the complaint Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court. The complaint describes Carter as “an Army veteran herself, and as a Christian who views her nursing work as a calling.” She believes that unborn babies are created in God’s image and should be protected.
But in September 2022, following the Supreme Court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which stated that abortion is not a constitutional right and directed the abortion debate back to state legislatures, the VA published a rule stating that the VA would immediately begin providing abortion services at all of its facilities.
According to Carter’s complaint, the VA rule states that “abortion is essential health care,” abortion counseling is “a responsibility of the provider,” abortion services are a “Federal dut[y]” for VA employees, and abortion services will be offered “just as counseling is offered or covered by VA regarding any other health care decision.”
The VA is seeking to apply the rule even in states that restrict abortion, describing abortion services as federal duties.
But the rule violates the Veteran’s Health Care Act of 1992, a federal law that specifically excludes abortions and abortion counseling from being offered by the VA.
In November, 15 state attorneys general wrote a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, stating that the rule is unlawful and that it “replays what we, the Attorneys General of 15 States, have come to expect from this Administration’s lawless and hasty executive actions taken at the behest of its political base.”
And in a letter to Congress Dec. 13, a coalition of 46 pro-life organizations wrote, “The administration is flagrantly disregarding federal law in their rush to impose abortion on demand until birth at taxpayer expense throughout all fifty states.”
Carter is represented in her suit by First Liberty Institute. “It is unconscionable that the Biden administration would force health care workers at VA facilities to violate their consciences,” said Danielle Runyan, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The VA should be focused on caring for the men and women who bravely served to protect our country, not on performing illegal abortions.”