Are you a veteran who suffered a reproductive injury during service? Here’s some positive news:
Veterans who have suffered brain, spinal cord or reproductive organ damage during service are finally eligible for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) benefits after a 24-year ban on Veterans’ Affairs Department (VA) funding for reproductive assistance. This temporary legislative breakthrough means a marked improvement in quality of life for thousands of veterans who previously could not collect reproductive assistance benefits.
If the VA has denied your claim for reproductive assistance, don’t give up. Despite resistance from religious extremists and others, Senator Patty Murray has been fighting for veterans’ rights to reproductive assistance, and winning. With some expert assistance, your chances for successful appeal are at an all-time high.
Loss of Reproductive Ability Can Lead to Debilitating Depression
As a veterans’ disability benefits lawyer, I have worked with many disabled veterans who have lost their ability to conceive naturally as a result of service-related injury. The inability to reproduce has wide ranging and devastating effects on veterans’ lives.
Female veterans who have undergone service-related hysterectomies and male veterans who have suffered debilitating genitourinary injuries often develop serious depression. The deterioration of the veteran’s mental health can mean inability to maintain employment, drug and alcohol abuse, even suicide.
Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 injured veterans are in need of reproductive services. Many of these American heroes cannot afford the high cost of reproductive assistance technology. A single IVF treatment can cost over $12,000, and successful IVF procedures often require several attempts, totaling more than $30,000.
Religious Extremists Continue to Fight Veteran IVF Benefits
Part of the difficulty in funding IVF for veterans comes from religious extremists. A June 2016 Seattle Times editorial suggests one reason for the decline to permanently lift a 24-year Congressional ban on VA IVF funding could be the conservative Family Research Council, a fierce group of religious activists who are fighting to prevent the federal government from providing reproductive services costs. The activists argue that IVF technology leads to destruction of fertilized embryos.
The article commented on the how paradoxical the religious extremists’ argument is. “What could be more pro-life than creating life?” asks one subject in the article. The same religious activists support funding for Zika virus response, in part to fight the contraception that would be recommended until a vaccine is developed.
Senator Murray Wins Temporary Lift of 24-Year Ban on Veteran IVF Funding
In 1992, Congress banned the VA from providing funding for IVF, largely due to the views on destruction of fertilized embryos. Senator Patty Murray has been actively fighting the ban for the past four years. She was able to make significant headway on September 28, 2016, when President Obama signed the Senate bill offering $88 million in assisted reproductive technology for the next two years.
However, because Murray’s provision is attached to an appropriations bill, she has not permanently repealed VA’s ban on providing IVF. Spending must still be reauthorized every two years according to availability of existing funds. Yet, Senator Murray announces she will continue to push for a full repeal of the IVF ban.
“Our country makes a promise to veterans to take care of them long after their service is over. Yet for more than 20 years, because of politicians’ personal beliefs, this country has denied veterans with service-related injuries the one thing that could help them realize their dreams of having a family,” Senator Murray said.
“I was encouraged to see so many Republicans join Democrats earlier this year to line up in support of my provision—and with this deal announced today, I’m now more encouraged than ever that Congress will do the right thing for our military families, and finally allow the VA to cover the cost of fertility services.”
Kudos to Senator Murray
We applaud Senator Murray and her efforts in giving injured veterans the opportunity to start a family and hope for a better future. The provision of reproductive benefits allows veterans to improve their quality of life.
If you or a family member has suffered a reproductive injury during service, we suggest you contact our experienced veterans’ disability benefits law firm. Our team of medical and legal experts will help you prepare a solid claim for VA reproductive assistance benefits.