One year since it began performing abortions, the Department of Veterans Affairs released annualized data to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee under threat of a subpoena.

The VA disclosed to Congress that it had provided 88 abortions through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30—of which 64 were said to have been performed under circumstances of threats to the mother’s health.  

According to the VA report, the agency conducted nine abortions in pregnancies that threatened the mother’s life, and 15 in pregnancies resulting from rape. The report did not define what circumstances represented a threat to the mother’s “health,” leading the pro-life Republican who chairs the committee to demand more detailed information. 

“Whether it’s one abortion or 100 abortions, one innocent life lost to the actions of humans and not God is one too many,” Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, told The Daily Signal in an emailed statement Tuesday. 

The Biden administration’s move last year to begin offering taxpayer-funded abortion services through VA is wrong,” Bost added. “Under my leadership, House Republicans have continued to fight back against this bad policy that is in clear violation of federal law and hold the Biden administration accountable.” 

The VA implemented its abortion policy, known as the interim final rule, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of 1973’s Roe v. Wade with 2022’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The policy permits VA to provide abortions and abortion counseling to veterans and VA beneficiaries. 

Bost contends that the rule violates the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992, Section 106, which defines VA’s authority when providing care for female veterans. Bost wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough in February, “Specifically, this section states that the VA may provide ‘[g]eneral reproductive health care,’ however, it specifically identifies that abortions and abortion counselling are prohibited from VA care.”

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, chairwoman of the VA panel’s subcommittee on health, also wrote to McDonough, requesting more data on the abortions the VA performed. 

“The VA’s decision to offer abortion services is in clear violation with federal law, but unfortunately, this seems to be of no concern to the Department,” said Miller-Meeks, an ophthalmologist by profession and a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel. 

In their Oct. 19 letter to McDonough, the Republicans wrote

As a reminder, we specifically asked you to provide documents sufficient to identify: 1. the total number of abortions each Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) has performed; 2. the total number of medical abortions and surgical abortions at each VISN; 3. the trimester of each surgical and medical abortion; 4. the documented exception that provided for each abortion performed; and 5. in the case of a ‘health’ determination, the documented condition that posed the threat. 

The representatives expressed their ongoing concern about the “broad and vague language defining ‘health’ determinations [for veterans],” they wrote. “We are simply asking that the doctors who performed the abortion or referred a veteran to a non-department provider for the procedure review the records and provide data to VA on the specific condition that warranted the ‘health’ determination necessitating an abortion, for compilation and transmittal to Congress.” 

The VA has yet to respond with the data, Bost said. “The determination of whether the health of the veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term goes to the heart of a veteran’s relationship with her doctor,” McDonough wrote in his refusal to comply with Congress. 

The House veterans panel would like to assess whether legislative action is necessary moving forward, the members wrote in their October letter. Addressing the “health reasons behind these abortion procedures that may show trends in the health circumstances of veterans … would seem to be valuable to the largest integrated health care system in the country as well.” 

To respect patient privacy, the Republicans requested disaggregated data in their letter. 

As of Tuesday, VA still had not provided all of the information the committee has requested. McDonough remains under threat of a subpoena, should the VA “continue to hide information and not comply with my authority on the issue,” Bost told The Daily Signal. The letter gives McDonough’s department until Oct. 31 to provide the desired information.

“Under my leadership, House Republicans have continued to fight back against this bad policy that is in clear violation of federal law to hold the Biden administration accountable,” the Illinois lawmaker said. I have always stood up for the sanctity of life, and I do not intend to stop.” 

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