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Proposed legislation benefits veterans who suffer reproductive damage

Veterans are often victims of severe and permanent injuries that can limit or impact their ability to have children. Spinal cord injuries and damage to reproductive organs has left thousands of service members and their spouses unable to conceive. A war-related injury that results in the inability to have children can be a horrific reality for many veterans and their families.

There has been a sharp rise in injuries, as more soldiers encounter explosive devices in war zones. According to reports, more than 1,800 service members have suffered injuries damaged reproductive abilities while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003. A new bill offers hope to these veterans and their families, providing benefits and support to compensation for in-vitro fertilization, a treatment option that allows fertilizing a woman's egg in a laboratory, then implanting the embryo.

In-vitro fertilization is not currently covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Legislators are proposing that VA coverage extend to in-vitro fertilization for service members who have suffered permanent damage to their reproductive organs. The legislation would offer payments for in-vitro fertilization for veterans with injuries. In some cases, it would cover the cost of finding a surrogate to carry a baby to term.

Some veterans have taken on the in-vitro payments themselves, coughing up tens of thousands of dollars. For many veterans, the expense is too much to bear. This new bill is bringing hope to veterans and their spouses who are given the possibility of conceiving a child, even after a traumatic war injury has damaged reproductive capability.

Source: The Seattle Times, "VA benefits sought for in-vitro coverage," Hal Bernton, Oct. 9, 2012

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