Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Tommy Tuberville questions VA Secretary Denis McDonough about priorities for veterans’ care

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Photo Credit: Tommy Tuberville

U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville questioned U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough about the department’s priorities regarding caring for veterans. A recent interim rule from the department authorizing abortion and abortion counseling services to be offered at its medical facilities has led to many questioning how the VA is implementing this new rule. Tuberville emphasized his strong opposition to the new policy.

“I’m strongly opposed to the recent interim final rule that permits the VA to provide abortion services in every state, even in those states who have prohibited abortion,” Sen. Tuberville said. “For nearly two weeks now, the VA has authorized medical facilities to provide abortion services to enrolled veterans and certain dependents. At this time, do you know has the VA medical facility performed an abortion since this has started in the last two weeks? Do you know if there’s been one?”

“I’m told that there has been one, yes,” McDonough said.

“The interim final rule is silent on abortion restrictions after a certain point of pregnancy,” Tuberville said. “Does the VA have a plan on the abortion procedures up until the birth of a child?”

“We provide health care to 300,000 women veterans of childbearing age,” McDonough said. “My hope is that no one would ever have to have faced the health or life-threatening, let alone rape or incest results to have this service, but because of the importance of ensuring the health and safety of those veteran patients, we have determined that we needed to do this.”

Many states, including Alabama, have outlawed abortions. The Biden Veterans Affairs Department has announced that it plans to defy state laws and authorize abortions at federal VA facilities.

“Many veterans suffer from sleep apnea due to medical conditions they manage as a result of their service. CPAP machines used to aid veterans’ sleep apnea have been in short supply since the pandemic – I think you know that – due to a chip shortage and a global recall on CPAPs,” Tuberville asked. “I understand there are some devices available that do not…require a chip and could be available to veterans today. We’re having a huge problem in our state. Would you consider it an ethical violation of the VA if the VA provider was not providing a CPAP if they knew it was available? And have you heard any problems with this?”

“We’ll make sure we dig into that,” McDonough answered. “If there’s something, if there’s an available—clinically proven available option, then we’ll do it.”

Sen. Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and HELP Committees.

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