Senators Carper and Coons Vote to Protect Veterans’ Reproductive Health Care Access

Senators support Biden Administration rule allowing VA reproductive health care coverage for veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) joined their Senate Democratic colleagues to oppose Republican efforts to overturn the Biden Administration’s rule that ensures the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can provide full access to life-saving, reproductive health care services and counseling for U.S. veterans. The vote of disapproval failed 48-51. Currently, an estimated 300,000 women veterans of reproductive age who are enrolled in VA health care are protected under the Biden Administration’s rule, over half of which live in states with abortion bans in place.

“I am strongly opposed to efforts across the country to enact radical abortion bans, and this latest effort to undermine the health care of hundreds of thousands of our women veterans is particularly troubling,” said Senator Carper. “I know firsthand the sacrifices that our veterans make for this country and we cannot leave them behind. We must protect fundamental reproductive health care services for those who put their lives on the line for our country.”

“It’s vital that the veterans who served and fought for our country have access to the freedoms that every American deserves, including the right to make decisions about their own reproductive health,” said Senator Coons. “On the heels of last year’s outrageous Dobbs’ decision, this resolution would take away access to critical health care services from hundreds of thousands of American women. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues against this resolution when we should be expanding a woman’s right to choose, not attacking it.”

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated healthcare system in the U.S., with over nine million veterans enrolled in the program. Women veterans comprise approximately 10 percent of the veteran community. In September 2022, the VA released an interim final rule on “Reproductive Health Services” that took effect immediately following its posting to the Federal Register. Previously, VA regulations banned abortion care and counseling without exception. The new VA regulation allows veterans and eligible family members and caretakers to access abortion care through VA in cases of rape, incest, and in cases of life or health endangerment of the pregnant person.