Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the Western District of Texas in the case of Carter v. McDonough.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reversed long-held agency practices and adopted a final interim rule in September 2022, allowing taxpayer-funded abortions and abortion counseling for veterans and their beneficiaries. An opposing VA nurse and Army veteran, Stephanie Carter, filed a lawsuit against the new rule.
AG Skrmetti joined a coalition of 17 state attorneys general to fight federal overreach in a new rule permitting abortions at VA clinics. Read more here: https://t.co/2XYn3a4jbp pic.twitter.com/XRebCusfJF
— TN Attorney General (@AGTennessee) January 18, 2023
Carter claimed in her suit, filed in December, that her “sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit her from offering abortion services and providing counseling required by application of the” VA policy.
Skrmetti and the coalition of 17 attorneys general filed the amicus brief in support of Carter, with the brief stating, “These [State] laws strike a balance among the competing interests and reflect the outcome of hard-fought democratic processes. Some amici have chosen to adopt tighter restrictions on abortion following Dobbs. Other States have maintained or embraced more permissive regimes. All States have provisions in their abortion laws to protect a woman’s life.”
According to the brief, the VA’s defense is based on a legal authority that does not exist.
“[The VA’s rule] reflects disregard for the democratic process, intrusion on areas of traditional state authority, and defiance of the Supreme Court’s recognition that the hard questions in this area have been ‘return[ed]’ to ‘legislative bodies,’” the coalition of attorneys general wrote. “[T]he VA justifies the rule not because of the absence of state laws on the subject of abortion, but because of the Department’s disapproval of them on policy grounds.”
Skremmti said, “In Dobbs, the Supreme Court recognized that regulation of abortion is entrusted to the states. Tennessee’s law reflects the will of the people as expressed through their elected representatives. We will not allow federal bureaucrats to undermine the General Assembly’s lawful authority.”
Approximately two months after the VA implemented the rule, Skrmetti originally joined 14 other attorneys general in November to warn the federal agency that it lacked the authority to implement the rule.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Background Photo “Department of Veteran Affairs” by AgnosticPreachersKid. CC BY-SA 3.0.