For the first time in almost 25 years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for In Vitro Fertilization for wounded veterans.
As NPR's Quil Lawrence explains, Congress has reversed a law passed in 1992 that "prohibited the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for IVF for veterans and their families." Quil tells our Newscast unit that "inside the stopgap spending bill passed this week is a provision to allow fertility treatments including IVF through VA health care." Here's more from Quil:
"Attempts to change that law have been blocked in recent years by opponents of abortion, since embryos are often destroyed in the IVF process.
"But political pressure has mounted as hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan vets returned with blast wounds and other injuries that affect their reproductive abilities."
He adds that while the VA did not fund IVF for veterans until now, the Pentagon's health system did – for active duty troops who suffered "combat-related reproductive injuries."
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says IVF costs an average of $12,400 per cycle, as Quil has reported.
Ahead of the vote in Congress, representatives heard from Tyler and Crystal Wilson. As Denver's ABC News 7 reports, the couple "was trying to conceive, but couldn't naturally because Tyler suffered an injury in Afghanistan that left him paralyzed."
"Our goal is that no other couple has to go through that struggle when they are already struggling on a day-to-day basis of getting through life paralyzed," Crystal Wilson told the television station.
As Quil has reported, during the time that IVF treatments were not covered by the VA, "many fertility clinics across the country [have offered] discounted rates for veterans who are paying out of their own pockets for IVF."