The Birmingham office of the Department of Veterans Affairs is preparing to offer abortion services in line with the national plan to begin offering services in VA medical centers regardless of state laws.
Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning 1973's Roe v. Wade, multiple federal agencies have stepped up to subvert individual states' laws regulating or banning abortion.
In early September, the VA announced that it would begin implementing abortion services in federal facilities nationwide.
By their own admission, the Department of Veterans Affairs can choose not to follow state laws restricting abortion because their medical facilities are on federally owned land. Since no federal law prohibits abortion, the VA is left to create its own policies and processes, free from the constraints of state law.
In an email sent to the entire Birmingham VA health system obtained by 1819 News, VA Birmingham health care executive director Oladipo A Kukoyi informed staff that his office was assembling a "multidisciplinary team" to "explore strategies" for veterans' abortion services.
"We are proceeding carefully to ensure our employees and veterans are accurately informed as we move forward with these changes," Kukoyi said.
While Kuyoki acknowledged that there are clinical, ethical, legal and human resources issues to be balanced in implementing the new service, he also claims that no VA employee will be forced to go against their personal convictions.
"It is recognized that issues surrounding reproductive rights can be sensitive, complex and emotional touchpoints for many," Kukoyi said. "Be assured that VA is committed to ensuring appropriate processes are followed when employees believe fulfilling their assigned duties would compromise their moral and religious beliefs. No employee will be put in a position to violate their values or beliefs."
Despite the VA's claim to have unilateral authority to engage in abortion services in opposition to state law, Attorney General Steve Marshall has claimed he will continue to enforce the law within Alabama borders.
"For this Administration, there is nothing more important than attempting to bully conservative states on every major issue, including abortion, even when the Administration lacks the authority to do so," Marshall said. "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."
The VA's nationwide decision came as a result of the Dobbs decision.
"As I've said many times, our diversity—of gender, of race, of thought and belief—is a fundamental source of strength of our country, of our Armed Forces, and of our workforce at VA," Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said.
"[U]ltimately, this was a patient safety decision above all else. Pregnant veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class, life-saving reproductive care when they need it most—including access to abortion counseling and abortion services when necessary. That's what our nation owes them, and that's what we at VA will deliver."
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