Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded her provision being signed into law this week that allows the Veterans Administration (VA) to cover the costs of assisted reproductive technology, of which IVF is the most common, for veterans who suffered service-connected injuries. After more than a decade of war, widespread use of IEDs and harsh deployment conditions resulted in greater rates of genitourinary, blast, spinal, and brain injuries than in past conflicts, leaving thousands of veterans unable to conceive naturally, but a ban, passed in 1992, has prevented VA from covering the costs of certain fertility services. Sen. Murray’s provision allows VA to cover the costs from its existing funds.
“For more than two decades, because of an outdated ban, our country has denied veterans with service-connected injuries the one procedure that could help them realize their dreams of having children of their own,” Senator Murray said. “On behalf of all our military families who have sacrificed so much on our behalf, I’m proud to say that with this legislation, we have taken a big step forward in righting this wrong.”
Senator Murray told the Spokesman Review on September 29: “Veterans who suffered injuries that resulted in fertility problems will soon be eligible for federal assistance for in-vitro fertilization. I do not give up easily. Over the years, I’ve heard from so many veterans who signed up to serve their country, suffered a life-changing injury, only to find out the VA was barred from covering the costs of the one procedure they needed to realize their dreams of having a family.”
The Military Times wrote of the advancement: “Murray has lobbied since 2012 on behalf of the estimated 1,800 former troops who may qualify for the benefit. She declared victory Wednesday in her long fight to loosen the 24-year ban. “Our country makes a promise to veterans to take care of them long after their service is over,” Murray said. “I was encouraged to see so many Republicans join Democrats earlier this year to line up in support of my provision.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the benefit could cost roughly $145 million a year. Murray, however, has said the CBO estimate is significantly higher than the VA actually would pay, because not all veterans who are eligible would request the benefit. Under the legislation, VA would have to find money in its medical services account to provide fertility counseling, treatment or adoption reimbursement.
“The inclusion of Assistive Reproductive Technologies in this year’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill finally starts to give the VA the resources to help wounded veterans start and grow families,” said Allison Jaslow, Chief of Staff at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “This benefit is long overdue, but this is only the first step. We look forward to continuing to work with leaders like Senator Murray to ensure veterans are not denied the right to start a family after giving so much for this country.”
“Today the Senate took a major step in ensuring veterans who have suffered catastrophic reproductive injuries during their service can have access to services that will allow them to have children,” said Sherman Gillums, Executive Director of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). “We applaud Senator Murray for her commitment to overturning the ban on IVF services that denied veterans access to this important benefit and eagerly look forward to its final passage in the House.”
“Veterans who have lost their ability to have children due to service related injuries and illnesses deserve the opportunity to start a family,” said Raymond C. Kelley, Legislative Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). “The VFW salutes Senator Murray for her hard work to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs is able to provide them the fertility treatment options they need.”