An Army veteran and nurse at a Temple, Texas, Veteran Affairs facility is suing the agency over its decision to offer abortion counseling and certain abortions to veterans, claiming the new rules violate her religious beliefs, reports Bloomberg Law.
Stephanie Carter filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. She is asking the court to rule that the policy is illegal and unconstitutional and block the department from enforcing it at the Temple facility.
"The Rule's application to Ms. Carter and enforcement at the Temple VA facility has deprived and continues to deprive Ms. Carter of her paramount rights and guarantees under the United States Constitution and RFRA," attorneys for First Liberty Institute, the group representing Carter, wrote in a 29-page filing.
The VA disputed that claim Wednesday, saying Secretary Denis McDonough "has made clear to all employees that their religious beliefs are protected here at VA."
"While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, VA does provide accommodation for VA employees who wish to opt out of providing abortion counseling or services," said Terrence Hayes, the department’s spokesman, in a statement.
The Biden administration in September expanded abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to eliminate the federal right to an abortion earlier this summer, announcing that the VA would provide abortions when a pregnant veteran’s life or health is at risk if their pregnancy were carried to term, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, regardless of state laws.
Abortions in Texas ceased following the Supreme Court decision.
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