By Debbie Gregory.
A policy change can now help disabled veterans start a family.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is now covering the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF) until the fall of 2018.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though thousands of servicemembers suffered genitourinary, blast, spinal and brain injuries that left them unable to conceive naturally, the VA was unable to cover the costs of certain fertility services because of a ban Congress passed in 1992.
Last year, Senate Democrats, led by Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash, successfully secured a provision in the MilCon-VA Appropriations bill that gives VA the authority to provide assisted reproductive technology, of which IVF is the most common, through Fiscal Year 2018.
Many troops who suffered blast wounds to their genitals and spines while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have found it difficult or impossible to conceive without medical intervention. IVF treatments, which involve collecting eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory, can be prohibitively expensive for these veteran families, averaging more than $10,000 per pregnancy attempt.
This new VA policy allows counseling and three rounds of IVF for veterans and their spouses if they have a service-connected disability that makes then unable to have children without treatment
The senators will continue to push for a permanent repeal of the ban.
“On behalf of all of the military families who have sacrificed so much on our behalf, I will keep working to permanently repeal the ban and make sure this country never turns its back on those who served,” Murray said in a released statement.
Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, called the IVF ban an “unjust policy” and the VA announcement to offer the procedure a step in the right direction.
“We owe a great deal to the men and women who put their lives on the line for this country. And it is past time that we overturned this unjust policy so that those who have sacrificed on our behalf are finally able to access critical services and build their own families. This announcement is a step in the right direction to ensure that all veterans and their loved ones are able to have a family,” said Senator Tester.