WASHINGTON — During a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, Denis R. McDonough, about the Department’s priorities when it comes to caring for veterans. Highlighting a recent interim rule from the department authorizing abortion and abortion counseling services to be offered at its medical facilities, Senator Tuberville pressed for answers about how the VA is implementing this new rule and emphasized his strong opposition to such policy. When asked if the VA will provide abortions up to the moment of birth, the Secretary side-stepped the question and avoided giving a firm answer.
Additionally, Senator Tuberville asked Secretary McDonough about ensuring the VA provides veterans with available CPAP machines to address sleep apnea and COPD, especially given that there are machines available that don’t require microchips, in response to the recent global microchip shortage.
Excerpts from Senator Tuberville’s remarks can be found below, and his full remarks can be viewed here.
ON ABORTIONS BEING PERFORMED AT VA FACILITIES:
TUBERVILLE: “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. 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?”
McDONOUGH: “I’m told that there has been one, yes.”
ON THE VA PROVIDING ABORTIONS UP TO THE MOMENT OF BIRTH:
CTT: “The interim final rule is silent on abortion restrictions after a certain point of pregnancy. Does the VA have a plan on the abortion procedures up until the birth of a child?”
McDONOUGH: “We provide health care to 300,000 women veterans of childbearing age. 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.”
ON CHIP SHORTAGE IMPACTING CPAP MACHINES:
TUBERVILLE: “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. 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?”
McDONOUGH: “We’ll make sure we dig into that. If there’s something, if there’s an available—clinically proven available option, then we’ll do it.”
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.