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Veterans Affairs says it will provide abortions — even in Texas

The VA follows the Department of Defense in providing access to abortion as several states, including Texas, essentially ban the procedure following the U.S. Supreme Court decision ending nationwide protection.

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Friday it will provide abortions for veterans and their beneficiaries as medically necessary or in cases of rape or incest.

The VA said it plans to provide abortions across the entire nation — including states, such as Texas, that prohibit the procedure. The VA’s decision reopens access to abortion to a class of women in Texas and several other states.

Texas is home to more than 1.5 million veterans. About 193,000 of those are women — more than any other state.

Texas lawmakers approved a ban on abortion that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the case that established a nationwide right to abortion.

“This is a patient safety decision,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. “Pregnant Veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most. That’s what our nation owes them, and that’s what we at VA will deliver.”

In announcing the decision to provide abortions, the VA said “access to medically necessary abortions is essential for preserving the life and health of Veterans and VA beneficiaries.”

The department added that veterans are at a greater risk of pregnancy-related complications due to higher rates of chronic health conditions.

The VA joins the Department of Defense in its decision to provide abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer there was no constitutional right to an abortion.

BY ALLISON P. ERICKSON with Texas Tribune.