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VA Grants Religious Exemption to Employees Against Abortion After Lawsuit

by | Jul 28, 2023

By Elise McCue, The Daily Signal

A Texas nurse has won religious exemptions for Department of Veterans Affairs employees nationwide opposed to participating in performing abortions, the First Liberty Institute says.

Stephanie Carter filed a lawsuit against the VA in December after seeking a religious exemption from taking part in abortions, and finding no such exemption existed, contrary to a VA spokesman’s claims to the contrary. Carter is a nurse practitioner at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple, Texas.  

“We’re pleased that the VA implemented a nationwide policy to protect the religious liberty rights of all VA employees,” Danielle Runyan, senior counsel for the First Liberty Institute, announced Monday. The institute is a Plano, Texas-based nonprofit legal organization devoted to defending religious freedom.

Runyan added:

Stephanie Carter is living proudly by her faith and should not be forced to choose between her faith and her career. Because of her courage, every VA employee in the nation can now seek a religious accommodation from participating in a procedure they find unconscionable.

The VA first published an interim final rule in September allowing for the VA to provide abortion counseling and abortions up until birth. The interim final rule took effect 30 days after being published. It came just a few months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June 2022.

The interim final rule was met with considerable protests from Republican lawmakers. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., introduced a resolution to the Congressional Review Act to block the VA’s taxpayer-funded abortions. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and James Lankford, R-Okla., submitted a bicameral public comment letter, stating, “The VA does not have the power to override an Act of Congress to impose its preferred policy of taxpayer-funded abortion on demand until birth.”

The VA issued a press release, saying, “Abortion restrictions are creating a medical emergency for those we serve.” The VA claimed that restricting veterans’ and their beneficiaries’ access to abortions would subject them to “increased risk of loss of future fertility, significant morbidity, or death.” 

Editor’s note. This appeared at the Daily Signal.

Categories: Conscience Rights