Wounded Veterans Are Getting Screwed By a Regressive Law Denying Them Access to IVF Treatments

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Artificial inseminationBack in January the military made headlines by promising to pay to freeze sperm and eggs for troops ahead of their deployment, which was a pretty interesting benefit. It could allow soldiers to retain their fertility in the event of injury in combat or even just naturally occurring infertility. But in spite of that offering, according to the New York Times, the V.A. is actually prohibited from paying for IVF for veterans, so any couples who require IVF to conceive have to pay for the treatments out of pocket.

“Thanks for your service, but you’re on your own with this,” said Corporal Tyler Wilson, a young Army veteran who was paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2005. He and his fiancee want to have children, and their doctors say IVF is the only way that will happen.

The source of the problem is a 1992 law passed to protect the children embryos. It prohibits the V.A. from providing IVF for veterans, even veterans whose infertility comes from an injury sustained during combat. Confusingly, the Department of Defense is not bound by that law, and it can and does provide IVF for active duty military. Not many injured soldiers take advantage of that, though. Not many people say, “I want to have a baby right now” while in the middle of recovering from catastrophic injuries. It’s only later, after they’ve recovered, that veterans learn that they’re not eligible for fertility treatments.

“This is a widely used medical procedure, and our veterans should have access to it,” says Washington Senator Patty Murphy, who has been campaigning to change the law. “This is an issue between the veteran and the spouse and their doctor.”

This law is antiquated and unfair. Nobody who lost their fertility in combat should be denied the opportunity to ave the family they want just because back in the 90s someone thought this was a moral idea.

(Photo: Frentusha/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)