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VA Healthcare Benefits, Abortion, and Roe V. Wade

On Friday, June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade, the legal precedent which provided Constitutional protections for a woman’s right to choose for nearly five decades.

This move will likely trigger bans on certain reproductive healthcare services offered in approximately half of the United States according to the Associated Press; the move may also have some already in or becoming part of the VA healthcare system wondering what Department of Veterans Affairs policy will be on the issue going forward.

Does the Supreme Court action against Roe v. Wade affect VA health care programs or related policies for contraception, gender-affirming care, or other issues? We mention this because some sources including the Associated Press are reporting at least one Supreme Court justice calling for a similar review of gay marriage rights, contraception, and more. The short answer is “no”, for reasons we’ll explore below.

The VA Healthcare System

If you enroll in the VA healthcare system, you are opting to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide services that can help you recover from illness or injury, prevent future medical problems, and improve your quality of life.

The VA official site says, “All Veterans receive coverage for most care and services, but only some will qualify for added benefits like dental care”. If you qualify for VA medical benefits, the VA says you meet Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage requirements to carry minimum coverages.

VA care includes, but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Health exams
  • Health education
  • Immunization
  • Genetic disease counseling
  • Surgeries
  • Medical treatments
  • Acute care
  • Specialized care

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Policy On Abortion Services

What follows is a discussion limited strictly to whether or not VA healthcare funds are available for certain medical procedures. It is not a discussion of the VA position on the procedures themselves. We limit our reporting to the facts presented in official VA literature, and our discussion does not include speculation on future moves by the VA in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Prior to that ruling, and following it, the VA official site contains documentation that reflects specific policy on using the VA healthcare system for certain healthcare options including abortion.

What is that policy? The VA says abortion and abortion counseling are not part of a VA medical benefits package. Does the VA single out abortion here? No, there is a list of options that are not available, including:

  • Cosmetic surgery, unless the VA concludes the procedure is medically necessary;
  • Gender reassignment surgery
  • Health club or spa memberships
  • Medicine/medical devices not approved by the Food and Drug Administration with certain exceptions;
  • Inpatient hospital or outpatient care if another agency must provide the care by law.

VA Policy Versus Supreme Court Decision

As you might have guessed from the above, the Department of Veterans Affairs policy is not affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe V. Wade; it was already VA policy to omit this type of healthcare from the list of options available.

Those who need abortion services or reproductive care should start their search at the local level depending on the state where they live. Some major companies are already promising support for employees who need to travel to states that have not made the procedure illegal or will not do so in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

But at press time there is still a very big question mark as to what happens next across the nation with respect to these specific medical procedures.

The legal landscape for reproductive healthcare services is changing significantly and in the years to come there are bound to be legal challenges on both sides of the argument for or against. How those challenges play out may define the future of reproductive healthcare in America for generations to come.