New Issue Brief Addresses Infertility and IVF Access for Military Servicemembers and Veterans

08.19.2020

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The Center for Reproductive Rights has issued the third issue brief in its “Serving Those Who Serve?” series, addressing the unique barriers to reproductive health care faced by servicemembers, veterans and their families. The new issue brief, titled “Access to IVF for Servicemembers and Veterans,” was developed with the Service Women’s Action Network to examine infertility incidence and access to infertility care, including in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“Access to infertility care is part of the full spectrum of reproductive health care and bears on an individual’s fundamental human rights to autonomy, health, and equality and non-discrimination,” said Karla Torres, Senior Human Rights Counsel at the Center. “Ensuring equitable access to infertility care is key to protecting and promoting everyone’s right to make informed decisions about their reproductive life.”

This issue recently garnered attention in The New York Times when servicemember Victoria Chamberlin wrote about her struggle to access infertility treatment while she served in the Army and the many barriers to care faced by servicemembers.

“Access to IVF for Servicemembers and Veterans” examines recent data on infertility among servicemembers and veterans; discusses barriers to infertility care; and offers policy recommendations for ensuring equitable access to care. It also highlights the stories of servicemembers and veterans who have struggled to receive care under the existing system.

Although preliminary research suggests that servicemembers and veterans may experience higher infertility rates than the general U.S. population, their access to infertility care, including IVF—the most common form of assisted reproductive technology—is unfairly restricted. Barriers to care include legal restrictions on insurance coverage, cost barriers, and logistical and systemic barriers.

“In the course of their service, many members of the military are exposed to job-related risk factors that put them at a heightened risk of infertility,” said Freya Riedlin, Federal Policy Counsel for the Center. “But under federal law, most servicemembers and veterans are nonetheless ineligible for IVF insurance benefits and services. This discriminatory policy excludes, for example, anyone who cannot conclusively prove that their infertility is service-related, who is unmarried, or who is married to a same-sex partner.”

"Access to IVF for Servicemembers and Veterans” is the third and final part of the Center’s “Serving Those Who Serve?” issue brief series. The first issue brief addressed access to abortion care. The second issue brief addressed access to contraception.

The entire series can be found here:

Serving Those Who Serve? Barriers to Reproductive Healthcare for Servicemembers and Veterans