COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper wrote a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), with other Democratic colleagues, urging the agency to take immediate action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents.

Over 800,000 of the nation’s veterans, who represent half of all women in the Armed Forces, live in states that are certain or likely to ban abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a press release.

“Last month’s disastrous Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the nearly fifty-year precedent established by Roe v. Wade and removed constitutional protection for abortion access from millions of individuals in this country, including an ever-growing number of veterans and dependents who are able to become pregnant,” wrote Bennet, Hickenlooper, and the senators. “This decision makes it even more critical that veterans receive access to the reproductive care to which they are entitled. Thus, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must urgently begin rulemaking to allow veterans and eligible dependents to receive abortions and all abortion-related services.” 

Under current VA regulations, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is prohibited from providing abortions and abortion counseling as part of the medical benefits package. In the letter sent to VA Secretary, Bennet and Hickenlooper highlight the VA’s statutory authority to provide abortions. They urge the VA to immediately begin a rulemaking process to change the current regulations by updating the VHA’s medical benefits package to provide such services.

Bennet, Hickenlooper, and the senators continued, “We contend that the VA has the statutory authority and discretion to provide abortions and abortion-related services and resources. The VA’s authority to provide care to veterans is established in the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996. That statute provides that the VA Secretary ‘shall furnish hospital care and medical services which the Secretary determines to be needed’ to certain veterans.”

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Bennet remains committed to protecting reproductive rights. In early July, Bennet and Hickenlooper joined their Democratic colleagues in introducing legislation to protect the right of individuals to cross state lines for reproductive health care. Bennet and Hickenlooper spoke on the Senate floor in support of this effort. 

Both Senators also introduced legislation to protect and improve access to critical reproductive health care services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and other treatments by providing a strong and consistent funding source for the Title X Family Planning Program.

In addition to Bennet Hickenlooper, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The text of the letter is available HERE.