Veteran’s Affairs Ends Anti-Gay IVF Policies

Press Releases / January 25, 2024


January 25, 2024



Sonia Ossorio, Executive Director 

National Organization of Women-NYC 

[email protected], 212-627-9895 


Veteran’s Affairs Ends Anti-Gay IVF Policies  

Now Veterans and Active Duty have Equal Access to IVF Insurance Coverage 


NEW YORK, NY – In response to a federal lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Women–New York City (NOW-NYC) against the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs challenging IVF policies that discriminate against its members, both agencies have now changed course, and two eligibility factors for IVF treatment will no longer exclude those who are queer, unmarried, or otherwise unable to provide their own gametes. NOW-NYC is represented in the suit by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic and Reproductive Rights and Justice Project. 

Prior to the policy change, the agencies covered IVF only for veterans and service members in opposite-sex marriages who could provide their own gametes (sperm and eggs). The VA’s impending policy change is a victory for veterans who are queer, unmarried, or cannot produce gametes. 

“Military Vets put their lives on the line to protect our country, and that often means putting off starting a family,” said Sonia Ossorio, Executive Director of NOW-NYC. “We applaud Veterans Affairs for moving quickly to provide equal access to IVF fertility treatments for all vets regardless of whether they are single, married, straight or gay.”

“My wife and I have spent over $30,000 trying to start a family together. We even sold our house, and we still can’t afford IVF. While the DoD’s changes bring us one step closer to building our family, we could still have trouble accessing IVF because our fertility struggles have not yet been linked to a specific military injury,” said one NOW-NYC member, an active-duty soldier in the Army.

The DoD and the VA operate independently and administer separate health care systems.  The DoD primarily serves active-duty military personnel and their families during their service and the VA is veteran-focused, providing services and support to eligible veterans and their families after they have completed their military service.

The DoD and VA are signaling they intend to preserve a third eligibility requirement that necessitates infertility must be directly linked to a service-connected illness, injury, or disability. This service-connection requirement excludes many service members whose fertility needs do not stem from injuries or disabilities related to military service. NOW-NYC is continuing the litigation against both agencies to challenge retention of this requirement. 

“Even though infertility is significantly higher within the military community than in the general population, it is not easy to meet DoD and VA’s strict criteria to show that fertility issues are directly linked to military service.,” says Briana Thompson, a law student intern in the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School and prior active-duty Air Force officer. “Service members who delay child-rearing and need IVF because of basic demands of military life, like deployments and permanent changes of station, are ineligible for care. These stringent requirements are unlawful, out of step with IVF benefits provided to other federal employees, and antithetical to the centrality of the military family to readiness.”

“Fertility services are an essential means of supporting military and veteran families, and those who devote their lives to defending our country deserve better,” emphasizes Trudel Pare, law student intern in the Reproductive Rights and Justice Project at Yale Law School. 

NOW-NYC focuses on igniting change through advancing laws, promoting women in leadership, fighting for reproductive justice, and challenging discrimination and violence against women and girls.

The Veterans Legal Services Clinic and the Reproductive Rights and Justice Project clinic, which represent NOW-NYC, are, respectively, part of the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization at Yale Law School, and Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.