Murray attempts to force another IVF vote

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Monday she’ll seek unanimous consent this week for a vote on her bill that would expand access to in-vitro fertilization for all veterans.

The move came after an anticipated announcement Monday by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense that they are expanding access to IVF, updating rules that had required beneficiaries to be legally married and restricted access for same-sex couples.

Under the changed rules, veterans still need to show that their fertility issues were caused by their service under existing law, which Murray’s bill would change to apply to all veterans.

The agencies’ decision comes after a legal challenge to their IVF policies. A lawsuit was filed in August, well before IVF took over the national conversation last month after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled frozen embryos are people. Murray’s push for unanimous consent is just the latest example of Democrats trying to capitalize on the issue ahead of the 2024 election and in the wake of the Dobbs decision returning abortion rights to the states.

“VA’s announcement is an important step forward that will help more veterans start and grow their families—and it’s especially timely as IVF is under attack from the far right,” Murray said in a release. “I will seek unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass my bill that would help more veterans and servicemembers build their families and ensure no future administration can rip away the progress DoD and VA have made.”

A similar bid late last month by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) for her bill that would protect access to IVF nationwide failed after Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked the vote. Murray’s bill has no Republican co-sponsors.

The policy: The VA has said it will align with the DOD’s changing policy, which requires beneficiaries to have had a “serious or severe illness/injury” during service that caused them to lose their ability to have children without assistive reproductive technology.

The agencies announced they will soon offer IVF to unmarried beneficiaries and ones in same-sex marriages, as well as those using donated sperm or eggs. The VA plans to begin delivering this care in “the coming weeks,” it said in a release Monday.

“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,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a release.