States cannot impose civil or criminal penalties on Department of Veterans Affairs doctors and nurses who provide abortion services that are allowed by federal law, a Department of Justice task force said in a new memo released Thursday.

The memo comes after the VA said earlier this month it plans to provide abortions to beneficiaries when pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and when birth may present a danger to a pregnant person’s health.

The memo said VA doctors and nurses are protected from state-imposed criminal or civil liability when providing federally sanctioned abortion by the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

“The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution bars state officials from penalizing VA employees for performing their federal functions, whether through criminal prosecution, license revocation proceedings, or civil litigation,” reads the memo, written by Christopher Schroeder, assistance attorney general of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

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