The Veteran Families Health Services Act Would Repeal VA’s Outdated Ban on IVF for Veterans with Service-connected Injuries and Expand Adoption Options
Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced the Veteran Families Health Services Act, comprehensive legislation that would, among other things, ensure that servicemembers’ and veterans’ fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and counseling, are included as part of the health benefits they’ve earned.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of servicemembers suffered genitourinary, blast, spinal and brain injuries that left them unable to conceive naturally. But, because of a ban Congress passed in 1992, Veterans Affairs (VA) has been prohibited from covering the costs of certain fertility services. While VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) offer some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, far too often they fail to meet the needs of these servicemembers and veterans. Today, servicemembers are faced with the choice of pursuing fertility treatments before leaving service or paying thousands of dollars out of pocket later.
“It's our job to make sure veterans who have bravely served our country and their families have access to the fertility care they need and deserve,” said Bennet. “I'm happy to introduce this legislation that will help ensure veterans have access to needed treatments or counseling to start a family through the VA."
The Veteran Families Health Services Act would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings and empower servicemembers and veterans to start families when the time is right for them. This legislation would:
- Allow servicemembers to cryopreserve their gametes before deployment to a combat zone or hazardous duty assignment and after an injury or illness.
- Permanently authorize fertility treatment and counseling, including assisted reproductive technology like IVF, for veterans and servicemembers and allow for the use of donated gametes.
- Ensure that veterans’ and servicemembers’ spouses, partners, and gestational surrogates are appropriately included in eligibility rules.
- Provide support for servicemembers and veterans to navigate their options, find a provider that meets their needs, and ensure continuity of care after a permanent change of station or relocation.
- Expand options for veterans with infertility by allowing VA to provide adoption assistance.
- Require VA and DoD to facilitate research on the long-term reproductive health needs of veterans.
"We are thrilled to endorse the Veteran Families Health Services Act which will allow America to truly support the troops in this most important area – building their families," said Ellen Gustafson, Co-Founder, Military Family Building Coalition.
The bill is supported by Paralyzed Veterans of America, Minority Veterans of America, the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Military Family Building Coalition, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
In addition to Bennet, this legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
The bill text is available HERE.
A fact sheet is available HERE.