Former military members and couples in California looking to become parents may soon have a new law in their favor. A bill pending before Congress would offer expanded fertility treatment services to LGBTQ+ veterans who had previously been denied such benefits under outdated Veterans Administration rules.
What the Veterans Families Health Services Act would do
The Veterans Families Health Services Act would significantly expand and permanently fund access to fertility services for active-duty service members and veterans, as some cases pertaining to fertility and surrogacy have shown discrimination against certain groups. Among the bill’s provisions are:
- Cryopreservation of gametes before combat or hazardous duty and after injury or illness
- Treatment and counseling for IVF and other treatments while allowing the use of donated gametes
- Ensure that spouses, partners and gestational surrogates are included
- Provide VA adoption services
- Provide support to service members and veterans to find a provider and ensure continuity of care after relocation or change of station
- Require funding for research on long-term reproductive health needs
Political divide may threaten the bill’s passage
Although numerous advocacy organizations have endorsed the bill, including Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Family Building Coalition, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, among others, the bill still faces a fight from lawmakers who are opposed to assisted reproduction or LGBTQ+ rights. Congress passed a similar bill in the fall of 2016, but subsequent bills cut all spending for the program.
Proponents are unsure whether the current bill has enough bipartisan support for passage due to the country’s deep political divide. Not only LGBTQ+ military members have felt discriminated against, but so have injured military personnel. Until such time that the bill is passed, you may still have to find alternate reproductive funding.