The U.S. Senate on Thursday 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.
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 Thursday, Murray cited the damage buried mines can do a service member’s reproductive organs. In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s mines have 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,” Murray said. “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.”
Army Times reported that a companion bill has been submitted to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, but there was 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 an egg in a laboratory. That service typically costs more than $15,000.Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646 adam.ashton@ thenewstribune.com