New Law Provides Fertility Treatment Benefits To Wounded Veterans Veterans' advocates estimate that as many as 2,000 former service members are possible candidates for in vitro fertilization because of military related fertility problems.
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New Law Provides Fertility Treatment Benefits To Wounded Veterans

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New Law Provides Fertility Treatment Benefits To Wounded Veterans

New Law Provides Fertility Treatment Benefits To Wounded Veterans

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Veterans who've suffered catastrophic injuries are sometimes unable to have children in the traditional way. And, until recently, a federal law barred the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for fertility treatments including in vitro fertilization. That ban has been lifted. KUOW Patricia Murphy met one couple who fought to make the treatments available.

PATRICIA MURPHY, BYLINE: When Jeff Lynch left his new bride, Christy, and deployed to Iraq as an infantry soldier in 2005, Christy says neither of them were thinking about children.

CHRISTY LYNCH: When Jeff and I got married, we were 18. We didn't expect to need IVF to have a family.

MURPHY: Jeff was injured during his first deployment, but he got through it and came home. He and Christy had a daughter. He deployed again. This time while on patrol, he was blown up.

JEFF LYNCH: We were on a convoy, and we got hit with a daisy chain. A daisy chain is basically - they put an IED, which is an improvised explosive device, every 10 to 15 meters apart.

MURPHY: He survived, but his military career was over. Lynch has endured more than a hundred surgeries. The couple wanted more children, but the injuries left him unable to have more children naturally. The Lynches looked into in vitro fertilization - IVF - but the procedures cost about $15,000.

C. LYNCH: It was something that we could afford, and we could make it work. But it was something we weren't comfortable putting all of that money into without having a guaranteed outcome.

MURPHY: So they didn't go through with it. IVF is financially out of reach for many wounded vets' families. Congress prohibited the VA from paying for the procedure in 1992. Some lawmakers were concerned about the destruction of embryos. Democratic Washington Senator Patty Murray has been fighting to lift the ban since 2012, and this fall she finally succeeded. Now the VA will pay for IVF for wounded veterans injured during their service.

PATTY MURRAY: We all say when someone serves our country, we are there for them when they come home. Certainly allowing them to fulfill their dream of having a family ought to be part of what we are there for them when they return.

MURPHY: Christy and Jeff Lynch were one of several couples who lobbied lawmakers for the bill. They encountered the same concerns that prompted the ban almost 25 years ago.

C. LYNCH: One of the questions we were asked was, you know, what do you do with your leftover embryos? And, you know, the response that we had to that was, number one, it's none of your business what we choose to do with our leftover embryos. You know, those are ours.

MURPHY: The Lynches decided not to wait on Congress. They worked with a doctor who provides IVF treatments to wounded vets for a reduced fee. Jeff was a little surprised when he heard that Christy is expecting twins.

J. LYNCH: I just want her and the two babies to come out healthy. That's all I want.

MURPHY: And Christy wants all wounded veterans to have the option to use IVF through the VA.

C. LYNCH: Jeff has a friend who is almost like a brother to him who is a paraplegic. And, you know, we didn't want him and his future wife to have to fight this battle.

MURPHY: But the new law is only temporary. It expires in two years. And Christy plans to keep fighting to make it permanent. For NPR News, I'm Patricia Murphy.

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