Congress

Members of House GOP protest 'morally dubious' IVF access for veterans

Four House Republicans expressed their objections to the VA's recently expanded IVF access in a letter to the department's secretary.

A step in the IVF process is shown.
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A group of House Republicans are expressing their "strong objections" to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' recent decision to expand access to IVF services to eligible unmarried veterans and those in same-sex relationships.

In a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Reps. Matt Rosendale of Montana, Mary Miller of Illinois, Josh Brecheen of Oklahoma and Bob Good of Virginia called IVF "morally dubious" and said the fertility treatment should not be "subsidized by the American taxpayer."

Namely, the group questioned how the expanded benefits will affect the resulting "surplus of embryos after the best ones are tested and selected," their letter states. 

Prior to the VA's expanded rule, IVF services were only available to legally married veterans who could produce gametes — both eggs and sperm — within their relationship. Now they can access IVF benefits no matter their marital status or if they need to use donor eggs, sperm or embryos to conceive.

"These embryos are then frozen — at significant cost to the parents — abandoned, or cruelly discarded. 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 letter reads.

The four Republicans went on to ask McDonough for a response on six different questions, including what the VA will do with the "surplus embryos," how many embryos has the VA "already destroyed or frozen," the cost of the expanded access and how the VA had the authority to make the decision.

VA expands IVF access to single veterans, same-sex couples
VA expands IVF access to single veterans, same-sex couples

VA expands IVF access to single veterans, same-sex couples

The previous VA law required veterans who want to access IVF care to be married and able to produce gametes.

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"The VA must focus on providing world-class healthcare and benefits to veterans, not trying to remake the nuclear family," the letter concludes. "We appreciate your attention to this letter and eagerly await your reply."

All four Republicans who signed the letter are members, with Good being the chair, of the Freedom Caucus, which is generally considered to include the most conservative members of the House. And as many other House Republicans have vehemently expressed their support for IVF treatments in the wake of Alabama Supreme Court's ruling last month, this represents a rare example of the party's agreement with the controversial decision. 

The ruling, which stated that embryos are considered children, left many IVF programs in limbo in the state, while Republicans became divided in their support. Some moved to protect the treatment by law, while others blocked a bill that would have established federal protections for the practice. And many of those who did express their support came under scrutiny last month after backing a bill that declares life begins at conception with no exception for IVF.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has expressed his support for IVF, saying in a post on Truth Social last month, "Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder!"

Democrats and President Joe Biden have done the same, proposing measures to secure legal protections for the practice as it's become part of the party's central mission.