Pitting Veteran Benefits Against Planned Parenthood
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
A Senate bill that would have helped veterans receive fertility treatments, counseling, adoption funding and childcare assistance was stalled and possibly torpedoed in the Congressional war involving Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations.
Despite the merits of the Bill, Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) attached amendments targeting Planned Parenthood and other family planning organizations. Senator Tillis defended his amendments, stating that the VA should focus on more pressing issues for U. S. veterans. The Bill’s sponsor, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), promptly asked for the Bill to be pulled, stating that the amendments drag “our sacred duty to our veterans -- and pull it down into the muck of petty politics. It’s not fair to veterans and their families, who have been hoping and praying for the opportunity to have children.”
The Bill is S469, “Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015.” Introduced by Senator Murray on February 11, 2015, the Bill would direct the Department of Defense (DOD) to:
- provide fertility treatment and counseling, including through the use of assisted reproductive technology, to a spouse, partner, or gestational surrogate of a severely wounded, ill, or injured member of the Armed Forces who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces;
- establish procedures for gamete retrieval from a member of the Armed Forces in cases in which the fertility of such member is potentially jeopardized as a result of an injury or illness incurred or aggravated while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces; and
- give members of the Armed Forces on active duty the opportunity to cryopreserve and store their gametes prior to deployment to a combat zone at no cost to the member.
The Bill also addresses adoption, authorizing the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay adoption expenses for up to 3 adoptions “for a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred or aggravated in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system.”
The Bill also focuses on reintegration issues, amending the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010’s program of group retreat reintegration and readjustment counseling for women veterans to:
- increase the number of counseling locations; and
- extend the program.
S469 also addresses childcare issues by establishing VA programs to assist with child care so veterans can receive:
- regular mental health care services, intensive mental health care services, or other intensive health care services; and
- readjustment counseling and related mental health services.
Unfortunately, S469 is an apparent casualty of war that will not survive the struggle between pro-Planned Parenthood and anti-Planned Parenthood forces.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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