“Women Veterans Bill of Rights” Almost Opens Door for Abortion Coverage

The U.S. House has passed a new bill known as the “Women Veterans Bill of Rights.” 
This legislation aims to guarantee that women veterans receive excellent, comprehensive, and equal medial care at every Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) center. The “Women Veterans Bill of Rights,” or HR 5959, grants women veterans of the armed forces twenty-four established rights.  The original legislation contained ambiguous language that Pro-Lifers feared would be used to mandate that VA facilities not only commit abortions on site, but federally fund them as well. Fortunately an amended version of the bill was passed, and it directly prohibits coverage of abortion, in-vitro fertilization, and gender alteration. 

Pro-Lifers were concerned that the language in the original legislation was too vague. The bill mandates that women veterans have access to a primary care provider who can provide “gender-specific” and “preventive” care.  The bill also requires that women veterans have the right to “request and get treatment by clinicians with specific training and experience in women’s health issues.”  Other language that pro-abortionists could have exploited includes the phrase “gender equity” for female veterans. This would have fit their argument that prohibitions on abortion are gender-discriminatory.  Pro-Lifers knew that the only way to prevent this legislation from being used to cover abortion was to add an amendment excluding the procedure. 

Currently, VA facilities do not commit abortions or cover them under VA health benefits packages because abortion is excluded from the scope of “general reproductive health care” under the current law.  The current law is not to take legal precedent over new legislation, and the original “Women Veterans Bill of Rights” would have presented abortionists an opportunity to seek legal protection and federal funding to commit abortions at every VA facility nationwide.      

It is important to note that Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) offered the amended version of the bill that explicitly prohibits abortion, gender alteration, and in-vitro fertilization.  The new version of the bill was debated and passed during the first week of December.  The passage of the amended bill is a definite Pro-Life victory, and highlights that the Culture of Life is making progress on Capitol Hill.