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Texas AG Paxton Joins Mississippi in Suing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Over Abortion Rule

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is joining an amicus brief led by Mississippi in an effort to stop the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from authorizing taxpayer-funded abortions as a veterans’ benefit.[0] The brief has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, in Waco, Texas, on behalf of a VA nurse who objects to the new rule.[1]

The VA rule, which was enacted in September 2022, allows veterans and their beneficiaries to receive abortion counseling and, in certain cases, abortions, departing from the VA’s previous policy that excluded these services from the medical benefits package provided to members.[1] According to the rule, the VA will offer abortion services in the case of a pregnant Veteran whose life or health would be in danger if the pregnancy were allowed to progress, or if the pregnancy was the consequence of rape or incest.[2]

Texas is also suing the Biden administration over its guidance that allegedly forces pharmacies to dispense abortion-inducing drugs in states where abortion is banned.[3] The lawsuit argues that the policy violates the Constitution and federal law and infringes on Texas’s sovereign and quasi-sovereign authority.[3]

The amicus brief argues that the VA rule was implemented illegally, and cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected.”[2] A VA spokesperson said last month that the department provides accommodations for VA employees who wish to opt out of providing abortion counseling or services.[2] However, First Liberty Institute attorney Danielle Runyan said no such process was made available for Stephanie Carter, the VA nurse suing the agency, to engage in any sort of a discussion with her supervisors.

The Biden administration has taken steps to protect and push abortion since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the precedent that protected abortion rights nationwide.[4] HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a July 2022 statement that the agency was “committed to ensuring that everyone can access health care, free of discrimination,” including access to prescription medications for reproductive health and other types of care.[5]

Texas and several other states across the country have passed laws to protect the unborn, and AG Paxton has vowed not to “back down just because unelected bureaucrats in Washington want to create illegal, extremist federal policies.[6]

0. “Texas Attorney General Paxton joins brief to stop ‘taxpayer-funded' abortions for VA members” KVUE.com, 7 Feb. 2023, https://www.kvue.com/article/news/politics/paxton-joins-brief-stop-abortions-va-members/269-b2c1a163-8c4d-4166-be7e-e6724864e099

1. “Paxton Joins Amicus Brief to Block the VA from Providing Taxpayer-Funded Abortions” EIN News, 7 Feb. 2023, https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/615687674/pax-ton-joins-ami-cus-brief-to-block-the-va-from-pro-vid-ing-tax-pay-er-fund-ed-abortions

2. “VA Nurse's Suit to Opt Out of Abortions Inspired by Faith, Regret” Newsmax, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.newsmax.com/us/va-abortion-nurse/2023/01/30/id/1106528

3. “Texas challenges HHS guidance that pharmacies can't turn away people who have a prescription for a drug that may end a pregnancy” CNN, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/08/politics/texas-lawsuit-biden-abortion-pharmacy-guidance/index.html

4. “Fitch, 17 state AGs file brief opposing Biden's VA rule pushing taxpayer-funded abortion for vets” Pregnancy Help News, 1 Feb. 2023, https://pregnancyhelpnews.com/fitch-17-state-ags-file-brief-opposing-biden-s-va-rule-pushing-taxpayer-funded-abortion-for-vets

5. “Texas sues Biden administration over abortion medication guidance” Courthouse News Service, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.courthousenews.com/texas-sues-biden-administration-over-abortion-medication-guidance

6. “Texas Sues Biden Admin Over ‘Pharmacy Mandate' to Dispense Abortion Drugs” The Epoch Times, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.theepochtimes.com/texas-sues-biden-admin-over-pharmacy-mandate-to-dispense-abortion-drugs_5042103.html