August 18, 2022

Committee Launches New Effort Focused on Reproductive Healthcare Access for America's Veterans

Visits to Oklahoma, Texas spotlight limited access to reproductive healthcare and abortions for veterans, lack of guidance for VA staff. 

Press Contact

Miguel R. Salazar (202) 779-1486

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs  Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Subcommittee on Health Chairwoman Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) announced a new Committee effort focused on reproductive healthcare access for America's veterans.  

The initiative kicked off with multiple oversight visits and listening sessions in Oklahoma and Texas, where Committee Members and staff heard directly from veterans and their VA healthcare providers who face uncertainty following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision and a complicated array of local, state, and federal laws that impact reproductive rights. 

“Without clear, state-specific guidance from VA, providers at VA medical facilities are confronted with tremendous uncertainty, and they are frustrated by restricted authority and constraints that limit their ability to provide the best care for veterans,” said Chairwoman Brownley. “As the assault on reproductive rights escalates and the right to bodily autonomy continues to be threatened, veterans are rightfully anxious and emotionally distressed about the future of their reproductive care. Chairman Takano and I continue our commitment to working with Secretary McDonough to carry out VA's mission to provide our nation's veterans with the comprehensive healthcare, including access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, that is essential to their health and well-being.”

These visits built on the Committee’s work throughout the 117th Congress to create a more welcoming VA and build equity for all of America’s veterans regardless of race, class, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Already, the Committee has been working behind the scenes to gather feedback about the impact of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision on reproductive healthcare at VA. 

Chairman Takano added, “If we intend to earn and keep the trust of America’s veterans, we must guarantee equal access to comprehensive healthcare for all who have earned these benefits. We cannot diminish the sacrifices our women veterans made to protect equality while in uniform by undermining it in what should be a safe, welcoming space.  VA has an immediate opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the country what high-quality reproductive healthcare looks like and must act to keep its status as a leader in our country’s healthcare delivery.” 
BACKGROUND: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the largest integrated healthcare network in the United States. Millions of veterans live in states that have already issued or plan to issue bans or restrictions on abortion, contraceptives, fertility treatment, and other reproductive healthcare services. VA has the most restrictive abortion policy of any federal healthcare system, including the Department of Defense (DoD), Indian Health Service, and Bureau of Prisons. VA does not provide abortion counseling or abortion services and additionally, VA also cannot provide the full spectrum of care for miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.