Mar 11, 2024 - Health

Biden admin expands IVF access to unmarried veterans and those in same-sex couples

Illustration of two hands exchanging a red heart.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding in vitro fertilization benefits regardless of marital status and will allow the use of donor eggs, sperm and embryos for the first time.

Why it matters: Veterans who are unmarried or in same-sex marriages will be able to access broader reproductive care, at a time when it faces post-Roe legal challenges in several states.

  • The ability to use donors is "a critical step toward helping Veterans who are not able to produce their own sperm or eggs due to service-connected injuries and health conditions," the department said in a statement Monday.

The VA said it expects the expanded benefits to become available in the coming weeks.

  • Veterans are already eligible for other reproductive health services, including maternity care, cervical cancer screening and fertility evaluation, per the VA.
  • The VA also covers up to $2,000 of adoption expenses for veterans who are infertile because of a disability linked to their service.

Yes, but: The VA does not cover surrogacy for any veterans.

What they're saying: "VA has advocated for this IVF expansion for years, including submitting repeated legislative proposals to expand IVF services at VA," Monday's statement said.

Zoom out: Pregnancies in women veterans using VA care increased by more than 80% from 2014 to 2022, the VA said.

  • Last year, VA expanded access to postpartum care. In 2022, the department said it planned to provide abortions in cases of rape, incest and when birth presents danger to a woman's health.

State of play: IVF has been the subject of partisan contention after Alabama's Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children under state law.

Go deeper: Why successful IVF often requires making multiple embryos for one baby

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