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The Seattle Times: Vets deserve access to reproductive health

February 22, 2019

Americans have heard many stories and seen considerable documentation of the brain, spinal and other wartime injuries suffered by America’s military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Less-known is that the U.S. government callously interferes with these wounded veterans’ chance to have children.

A 27-year-old law blocks the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from providing some reproductive health services — such as in vitro fertilization — to veterans even though those same services are available to active-duty military.

Congress repeatedly has refused to overturn that law, adding to thousands of veterans’ financial and emotional stress.

It is both heartless and absurd for the VA not to pay for IVF and other reproductive health services. Severe injuries sustained in combat, training or transport have left some veterans unable to conceive children naturally. In vitro fertilization offers hope for a family. But it can be tremendously expensive — $12,000 or more for one cycle of IVF, according to Larsen. That can make IVF out-of-reach without coverage.

It is past time to turn the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act into law. Our veterans deserve these fundamental health services just as much as other health care. — The Seattle Times