A legislation will require the Department of Defense to provide more fertility treatments to wounded, ill, and injured service members with infertility related to military service.
Health Services For Women Veterans And Families
The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2019 (S. 319) filed by Senator Patty Murray aims to expand the fertility options available to service members through the current DoD program. It will also give more access to fertility treatments for spouses and allow the Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of adoption services for veterans with injury-related infertility.
If passed, the legislation would provide options to service members to freeze their eggs and sperm before military deployment. The specimens would be stored up to a year after leaving military service, and the DoD will shoulder the cost for the storage and procedures.
A policy related to the automatic retrieval of eggs or sperm from troops whose fertility or lives are at risk due to wound or illness will also be put up.
"When we ask men and women to serve our country, we make a promise to them to care for them when they return, no matter what. This legislation is just one way Congress can follow through," Murray said in her introduction of the proposed bill.
Infertility In The Service
A 2018 report revealed that one in every three current and former service women surveyed said that they've had infertility problems.
This was based on a survey led by advocacy group Service Women's Action Network or SWAN involving 799 females in active duty, guard and reserve, and retirees and veterans.
This rate of 30 percent infertility among women in service is higher than the Centers for Disease Control report of 12 percent infertility among civilian women aged 15 to 44 who experience difficulty in getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to a full term.
Majority of the women who responded to the SWAN survey stated that their infertility is service-related.
Murray's bill also aims to expand health services to women service members and veterans.
Expensive Fertility Treatments
The cost of fertility treatments is steep. A single IVF cycle can go as high as $12,000 to $20,000, including the cost of medications, medical appointments, and laboratory work. Private clinics can charge up to more than $30,000.
The DoD program covers fertility services, including diagnostic services, hormone treatments, erectile dysfunction care, and surgeries for infertility.
It also provides advanced fertility treatments, including IVF cycles for service members and their families, but the waiting time can take up to a year. IVF at military facilities has an average cost of $5,000 per cycle. Free IVF treatments are only for service members with urogenital trauma and infertility related to cancer treatments.
There are currently six military hospitals in Maryland, Hawaii, North Carolina, Washington, and Texas offering IVF treatments.