4 House Republicans protest Biden’s IVF expansion for veterans

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WASHINGTON — A group of four House Republicans sent a letter to the Biden administration Wednesday protesting a policy to expand access to in vitro fertilization, or IVF, for veterans.

The letter, addressed to Denis McDonough, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was signed by Reps. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Mary Miller, R-Ill., Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., and Bob Good, R-Va., who said they had “a plethora of ethical concerns and questions” with the policy.

“IVF is morally dubious and should not be subsidized by the American taxpayer. It is well known that IVF treatments result in a surplus of embryos after the best ones are tested and selected. These embryos are then frozen — at significant cost to the parents — abandoned, or cruelly discarded,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Republicans argued the VA’s policy expanding IVF access for veterans would be harmful to the embryos, which they said have “inherent humanity.”

“Parents’ uncertainty of what to do with the additional embryos and inclination to leave them frozen for many years rather than discarding them points to their inherent humanity. The new VA policy is shocking not only on a moral level, but on a political and legal level as well,” the four Republicans added.

They went on to ask McDonough a series of questions, including what the VA plans “to do with the surplus embryos,” where it will store embryos, “who will pay for the storage,” how much it will cost and where the VA gets the legal authority for its decision.

The department explains the changes it is pursuing on its website: “VA is soon expanding access to IVF services. Before today’s expansion of care, VA was only allowed to provide IVF services to Veterans who were legally married and — within that relationship — able to produce their own gametes (both eggs and sperm). Under this expansion of care, VA will offer IVF benefits to qualifying Veterans regardless of marital status and — for the first time — allow the use of donor eggs, sperm, and embryos.”

The VA said in a press release that the expansion of access was “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.”

“Raising a family is a wonderful thing, and I’m proud that VA will soon help more Veterans have that opportunity,” McDonough said in the press release. “This expansion of care has long been a priority for us, and we are working urgently to make sure that eligible unmarried Veterans, Veterans in same-sex marriages, and Veterans who need donors will have access to IVF in every part of the country as soon as possible.”

The Republicans’ letter comes amid a heated national debate about IVF after an Alabama ruling that found that embryos are people threatened access to the procedure within the state. In the aftermath of the ruling, Republicans were divided, with some enacting legislation at the state level to protect IVF and others blocking measures that would provide federal protections for the practice.

President Joe Biden and Democrats have rushed to present themselves as defenders of keeping IVF legal. They’ve introduced measures in the House and Senate aimed at protecting the practice, and some lawmakers even invited guests affected by Alabama’s ruling to attend the president’s State of the Union address earlier this month.




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