News Releases

Amendment would allow the VA to offer IVF to injured veterans for first time in decades
 
Senator Murray has fought since 2012 to make this option available to veterans
 
Murray: “This amendment is about fulfilling our promise to military families”

 

(Washington, D.C.)- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Appropriations and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, applauded successful passage of her amendment to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover the costs of reproductive services for veterans who suffered service-related injuries that prevent them from starting families. Sen. Murray’s amendment, which passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 23-7, is part of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017.

 

“This amendment is about fulfilling our promise to the military families who we ask to sacrifice and serve our country on our behalf,” Senator Murray said.I’m so proud to see Democrats and Republicans working together to move this forward, but I know this is just the first hurdle. I will be fighting to see this through to the end so this country can keep up its commitment to care for our veterans and their spouses who dream of having a family.”

 

After more than a decade of war, thousands of servicemembers and veterans who suffered from service-related injuries struggle with fertility and reproductive health. While VA offers some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, far too often these options fail to meet the needs of these seriously injured veterans. The VA is barred from providing IVF services because of an outdated law, forcing veterans to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to address fertility issues from service-related injuries. Senator Murray’s amendment would make sure the VA provides assisted reproductive technology (ART) (of which IVF is the most popular and successful treatment) to veterans.

 

Last July, Senator Murray was forced to pull her bill on which the amendment is based on, the Women Veterans and Families Services Act, from the Veterans’ Affairs Committee when Republicans threatened to attach several poison pill amendments. The amendments, which Murray called a “partisan attack on women’s health,” would have prohibited the VA from working with Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations that provide fertility services. Senator Murray introduced her amendment today in yet another attempt to allow veterans to access reproductive care through the VA.

 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Wounded Warrior Project, RESOLVE, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Paralyzed Veterans of America – PVA, AMVETS, and Service Women’s Action Network – SWAN have all expressed their support for Senator Murray’s push to allow VA to provide IVF services to veterans.

 

Selected previous coverage:

 

Murray Promoted Extending IVF Coverage To Veterans: “Let’s Get Over The Cost.” PBS reported: “Sen. Patty Murray wants that to change. This Democrat from Washington state sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, and she wrote a bill that would lift the VA’s IVF ban. But for six years, her efforts have been blocked. SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-Wash.: To me, when someone goes off to fight a war for us, a man or a woman, we have an obligation as the country to make them whole again, as whole as we can. And, certainly, having a family, having children, having that kind of quality of life that a lot of Americans want is something that we should make sure they get.” [PBS Newshour, 1/6/16]

 

News Tribune Editorial Headline: Childless Military Couples Deserve Fertility Benefits Murray Has Been Fighting For. The Tacoma News Tribune opined: “The VA is banned from providing in-vitro fertilization benefits to veterans whose war wounds or injuries have threatened their chance of having kids, and who now seek viable treatments to start a family. The ban is a relic from a 1992 law that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, has been trying to change for nearly five years. It applies to men and women released to the VA system, not to service members still on the Pentagon payroll. Murray’s proposal to pay for IVF, other fertility treatments and adoption resources would tell all veterans that America respects their dream for a family and a legacy. It was scuttled by a few Republicans who have drawn a red line on the politics of reproduction.” [Tacoma News Tribune, 1/10/16]

 

Murray Said Vets Should Get Same Options As Active Duty Troops When It Comes To IVF Coverage. NPR reported: “The Pentagon's health care system for active-duty troops covers IVF for wounded soldiers like Matt Keil. The Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans doesn't. By the time the Keils learned about the difference, it was too late… Bills to change the law come up periodically, only to be blocked at the last minute, says Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington. "They don't come out and say that directly, but there continues to be a backroom concern about the practice of IVF," Murray says.” [NPR.org, 2/17/16]

 

Murray “Has Been Trying For Several Years” To Change Access To Fertility Coverage For Vets. The New York Times reported:  “A few thousand veterans, male and female, are infertile because of injuries they sustained in combat or training. Some are paralyzed, some have damage to reproductive organs and some have brain injuries that disrupt the secretion of hormones needed to produce eggs or sperm. Many veterans are confounded to learn that the Defense Department, which covers service members while their status is still active military, provides infertility treatment at seven hospitals, without charge for those who need it because of service-related injuries. But very few wounded troops are in any position to take advantage of that benefit. While in the hospital they still have active status until they are medically retired or discharged from the military, but they are usually in rehabilitation and struggling to recover… Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, has been trying for several years to change the law. ‘This is a widely used medical procedure, and our veterans should have access to it,’ she said. ‘This is an issue between the veteran and the spouse and their doctor.’” [New York Times, 2/29/16]