Legislation Would Put VA in Baby Business

By:  Jacqueline Klimas

The number of veterans who have their reproductive organs damaged in combat is growing, leading a top senator to propose legislation that would make fertility care a bigger part of Veterans Affairs hospitals’ missions — including paying for surrogate pregnancies.

Wounded male veterans’ spouses would be able to get artificial insemination at VA hospitals, and wounded women could designate surrogate mothers who would be able to receive fertility treatment on their behalf at the VA under legislation written by Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

As it stands, an injured man could have his sperm extracted at a VA hospital, for example, but his partner would have to be artificially inseminated by a private doctor — and on their own dime, said Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“Starting a family is a two-person job,” he said. “Part of the treatment of that injury is bringing your spouse in. It’s not only appropriate, but necessary to take care of the spouse or, medically if they needed to use a surrogate, a surrogate.”

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