Nurse practitioner sues VA over abortion policy

A nurse practitioner is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs, alleging the agency's policy to offer abortion services violates her religious beliefs. 

The lawsuit was filed Dec. 13 on behalf of Stephanie Carter, MSN, RN, an Army veteran and nurse practitioner at the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center in Temple, Texas. 

Ms. Carter contends that her "sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit her from offering abortion services and providing counseling required by application" of the policy, which the VA announced in September. The suit argues that the policy violates Ms. Carter's rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that the VA has no process in place to receive religious accommodation requests from healthcare workers. 

The lawsuit is requesting a court to rule that the policy is illegal and block the VA from enforcing it at Olin E. Teague Veterans' Center.

The VA disputed this claim, saying it provided VA healthcare employees information on how to file exemption requests through their supervisors. 

"From the moment VA announced this new rule, Secretary [Denis] McDonough has made clear to all employees that their religious beliefs are protected here at VA," a spokesperson for the VA told Becker's. "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. We are currently honoring exemption requests that come through VA supervisors."

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