Image credit: Sara Wakai/DoD

November 26, 2018

Congress should enhance reproductive health care for women veterans

By Kayla M. Williams

The incoming 116th Congress will contain not only the highest ever number of women, but also a record number of women veterans. As they consider what issues to take on, expanding reproductive health care access for women veterans should be a priority: currently, women veterans do not receive equitable care on multiple fronts. Increasing their coverage goes beyond symbolic moves to change VA’s motto by providing tangible benefits.

There are three key areas requiring Congressional attention: in vitro fertilization (IVF), contraception, and abortion.

IVF – Infertility affects roughly 12 percent of married women, but VA’s medical benefits package specifically excludes provision of in vitro fertilization. Overriding this VA regulation, in 2016, Congress authorized VA to cover assisted reproductive technology for veterans and their spouses solely when a service-connected disability caused the infertility. As written and implemented, this authorization does not cover same-sex couples or veterans who are experiencing infertility for other reasons – including, for example, women who delayed pregnancy during military service due to previous policies that did not adequately support parenthood.

Read the full article in The Hill.

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