A Department of Justice statement released Wednesday confirmed that states cannot penalize Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees for facilitating abortions authorized by federal law.
The Justice Department statement upheld a rule issued by the VA last week that would allow its employees access to abortion in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the pregnant mother.
“The rule issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Reproductive Health Services is a lawful exercise of VA authority,” the Justice Department wrote.
“States cannot impose criminal or civil liability on VA employees — including doctors, nurses, and administrative personnel — who provide or facilitate abortions or related services in a manner authorized by federal law, including understood the VA rule.”
The Justice Department cited the US Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which gives federal laws precedence over state laws, to bolster its assertion that states are not permitted to penalize “federal functions” of the GO.
The release specifically mentions that states cannot penalize VA employees “through criminal prosecution, license revocation proceedings, or civil suits.”
The VA allowed its first abortion procedure after the new rule to be performed this week, according to NBC News.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough confirmed to senators late Wednesday that the abortion was performed.
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