Stay Informed: The VA doesn’t cover fertility treatments for unmarried veterans or same-sex couples. Some want to change that.


Army veteran Toni Hackney has always wanted a family, but as a single woman with endometriosis, she knew she would need fertility assistance.

A year after she sought approval from the Department of Veterans Affairs to cover the cost of in-vitro fertilization treatments, she was denied for what she called a ridiculous reason: She’s not married.

“The whole time I'm fighting with them about, OK, this isn't fair, you know? Y'all say everything is on an equal basis and everything, but this don't feel equal basis,” Hackney said in an interview. “It's like they make it mandatory for you to get married in order to get treatment.”

In order to receive VA reproductive health care benefits, veterans must have suffered a service-connected injury, be married, and be able to supply their own eggs or sperm. Surrogacy is not covered.

Khris Goins and his wife, Dashonda, have been together for 11 years. They were married in 2014. Goins, a transgender man, can't take advantage of the VA's fertility benefit because it would require the couple to supply their own eggs and sperm.

That excludes unmarried veterans like Hackney, same-sex and transgender couples, and those who cannot produce eggs or sperm due to a service-connected injury or another medical issue, such as cancer treatments.
The VA added fertility coverage in 2016, largely because of the efforts of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. Now some veterans and infertility advocates say the coverage should be made permanent and expanded to cover more people.

“It's helping some, and trust me, we're very happy and grateful for that,” said Barb Collura, president and CEO of Resolve, a national infertility advocacy organization. “But it's showing, in very glaring form, who is being left out, and that's not acceptable to us.”

Hackney, 47, of Atlanta, served in the Army for 16 years as an imagery analyst on intelligence projects. She was a member of the first battalion called for duty after 9/11, serving in an undisclosed domestic location from December 2001 until 2003.

“I want to experience pregnancy and giving birth,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page to raise money for her treatments. “For me, the experience is just more than a want. I need it.” She’s raised just $1,250 of her $45,000 goal.

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