WASHINGTON -- A Senate commitee on Wednesday approved legislation that expands access to infertility treatment for seriously injured veterans.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization and other advanced reproductive technologies for veterans and their spouses. It cleared the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.
"Our single-most important duty must be to do right by our veterans," Murray, D-Washington, said in discussing the bill.
Pentagon figures released by Murray's office show that more than 1,830 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered pelvic or genital injuries since 2003 that could affect their ability to reproduce.
Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, introduced but then withdrew an amendment that would bring the measure in line with Department of Defense policy. That department provides IVF for severely injured or ill veterans but doesn't cover the cost of artificial insemination using surrogates or donor eggs and sperm.
Murray said such an amendment would unfairly exclude from coverage veterans whose injuries are so severe as to eliminate any possibility that they could conceive or bear children. Burr, the ranking member of the committee, agreed to withdraw that amendment.
"It is not our place to pick winners and losers based on the severity of the injury," she said.
Burr also successfully introduced amendments allowing VA to provide adoption assistance to veterans with infertility conditions incurred in combat and to require the VA to report annually the number of veterans receiving treatment and the cost of that treatment.