The United States Senate has passed a bill that would allow veterans who have sustained damage to their reproductive organs during active service to have fertility treatment paid for.
'These veterans have already paid too high a price in service to our nation. They should not have to pay a higher cost to have a family', said Congressman Rick Larsen, who has introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives.
Since the conflict in Iraq began in 2003, almost 2,000 service members have incurred injuries to their reproductive organs, making conception significantly more difficult.
Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) only covers some treatments for female infertility, and does not pay for IVF, which can cost up to US$15,000 per cycle. If the bill is successful, the VA would also pay for IVF for couples where a male veteran has suffered damage to his reproductive organs.
'Providing this service is a cost of war and part of the commitment we make for our service members and veterans when they return home. I'm hopeful that now this bill has passed the Senate without a single objection the House can also move forward and pass the bill before the end of this year', said the main sponsor of the bill, Senator Patty Murray, in a speech at the Senate.
However there is some doubt over whether the bill will be passed. 'Senate passage is as far as the bill is going to get; the House will not pass it before the legislation expires at the end of the year when the current session of Congress ends', reports the Army Times.
There are also concerns over the cost of treating all those eligible, should the bill become law. It is estimated that paying for veterans' fertility treatment will cost US$568 million over five years.
The Army Times reports that Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Jeff Miller, said that such a large sum of money could indirectly 'take funding away from our troops fighting in Afghanistan and may pose additional risk of injury, exacerbating the problem'.
Murray and Larsen continue to lead efforts to get the bill passed in the House of Representatives.