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Senate passes Murray bill to expand VA fertility services for wounded service members

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Dec. 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
December 13, 2012 2:31 pm

The Senate today passed a bill to provide additional fertility treatments to catastrophically wounded service members and their families, but the measure faces a tight deadline in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., campaigned for the bill two months ago in Seattle flanked by paralyzed service members from Spokane and Tacoma. Her bill  compels the Department of Veterans Affairs to offer in vitro fertilization services to severely wounded service members and their spouses.

In a Senate floor speech today, Murray cited the damage buried mines can do a service member’s reproductive organs. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s mines have already prompted the armed services to adopt “ballistic underwear” as part of their equipment for foot patrols.

“Providing this service is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make to care for our service members and veterans when they return home. I’m hopeful that now that this bill has passed the Senate without a single objection the House can also move forward and pass the bill before the end of this year. There is absolutely no reason we should make these veterans, who have sacrificed so much, wait any longer to be able to realize their dreams of starting or growing their families,” Murray said in a written statement today.

Army Times reports that a companion bill has been submitted to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, but there is no timeline for that committee to consider the legislation. The House must pass the bill by the end of the year or it will fail.

More than 1,800 service members have suffered wounds causing fertility complications since 2003, according to Defense Department data Murray obtained.

Currently,  the VA offers some fertility services, such as counseling, testing and intrauterine insemination. It does not pay for in vitro, the process of fertilizing sperm and and an  egg in a laboratory. That service typically costs more than $15,000.

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