Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that will end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ban on providing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services. Murray's bill, the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, also will begin child care programs at Vet Centers for women seeking counseling, and improve outreach to women veterans.
Army data show that between 2003 and 2011 over 600 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma. The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
"Reproductive injuries are some of the most impactful and serious wounds of these wars," Senator Murray said today upon introduction of the bill. "VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded. For those with such catastrophic injuries, that includes access to the fertility care they need. Veterans and their spouses are specifically barred from accessing In Vitro Fertilization services at the VA and often times have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family. These veterans deserve far more."
Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive. However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses. This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and urinary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA. The Department of Defense currently provides access to IVF services under the Tricare program and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers. Senator Murray's bill would provide veterans with the same access.