Mar 20, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP hardliners push to cut off IVF expansion for veterans

Rep. Matt Rosendale, wearing a dark blue suit jacket, light blue shirt and blue-and-white striped tie, seated at a table with bottles of water next to Rep. Bob Good.

Rep. Matt Rosendale. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

A group of right-wing House Freedom Caucus members on Wednesday sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs opposing the agency's recent expansion of in vitro fertilization access.

Why it matters: It's a rare example of vocal Republican opposition to fertility treatments as the party has tried hard to distance from an Alabama Supreme Court ruling last month that froze IVF services in the state.

Driving the news: At issue is the the VA's announcement last week that it will provide IVF services to unmarried veterans and those in same-sex marriages, as well as those who cannot create their own sperm or eggs.

  • Four Freedom Caucus members, led by Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough that they have "strong objections" to the new policy.
  • "IVF is morally dubious and should not be subsidized by the American taxpayer," they continued, echoing opposition from anti-abortion groups to the creation of "surplus" embryos as part of the IVF process.
  • The letter includes a list of questions for McDonough about the storage and treatment of surplus embryos and the cost and legality of the policy.

Zoom in: In addition to Rosendale, the letter was signed by Reps. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) and Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the Freedom Caucus.

  • The lawmakers wrote that it would "make more sense" to use the funds for the IVF policy tot "bolster adoption efforts" instead.

The other side: A VA spokesperson told Axios that, by law, the department's policy must adhere to that of the Pentagon, which similarly expanded IVF access.

  • The spokesperson added that the VA only covers the freezing of embryos but does not destroy them. In the event of divorce or death. Disposal is a choice for the veteran or their family.
  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who introduced the Democratic bill to create federal protections for IVF, told Axios of the letter, simply, "Unbelievable."

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