Veterans sue U.S. Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to get access to infertility treatments

Aug 2, 2023, 3:06 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs are making it difficult, and sometimes impossible for veterans to get infertility treatments, according to lawsuits filed Wednesday in federal courts in New York and Boston.

The lawsuits seek to hold the United States accountable for creating obstacles to health care access for a population that advocates say has a higher rate of infertility than the population at large.

Both suits attempt to obtain in vitro fertilization coverage for military service members and veterans who don’t fit the Veterans Affairs definition of infertility, which is limited to married, heterosexual couples.

In a release, West Point graduate and Army veteran Renée Mihail said she has seen many friends and colleagues struggle with fertility after serving in the military.

“This is not just a coincidence; Our service has seriously impacted our ability to build families,” said Mihail, a law student intern with the Yale Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against the U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs said infertility is pervasive in the military community, with research revealing that contributing factors include combat-related injuries, exposure to toxic chemicals and environmental hazards, sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the lawsuits, thousands of active military members and veterans face discriminatory and arbitrary reasons why they are rejected for appropriate treatment when they try to start having a family.

The lawsuit said those seeking in vitro fertilization coverage, the most effective treatment for infertility, are rejected if they are single, an unmarried couple, in a same-sex relationship or are a couple with the same reproductive organs, or if they lack proof that infertility is related to their service.

It sought a judge’s order to find that it is discriminatory and unconstitutional for the United States to reject treatment based on sex, sexual orientation, marital status or on the cause of the infertility.

In Boston, Air Force veteran Ashley Sheffield sued the Department of Veteran Affairs, saying she was rejected for in vitro fertilization treatments because she is married to a woman.

“I’m shocked and disappointed that the VA is denying me and other veterans IVF benefits because we’re in same-sex marriages,” Sheffield said in a release. “We are entitled to equal treatment, and we should no longer be treated as second-class citizens.”

Defense Department spokesperson Nicole R. Schwegman said in an email that it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

United States News

Associated Press

Bernice Johnson Reagon, whose powerful voice helped propel the Civil Rights Movement, has died

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bernice Johnson Reagon, a musician and scholar who used her rich, powerful contralto voice in the service of the American Civil Rights Movement and human rights struggles around the world, died on July 16, according to her daughter’s social media post. She was 81. Reagon was probably best known as the […]

48 minutes ago

ADD MORE LOCATIONS FILE - An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident is ...

Associated Press

US census takers to conduct test runs in the South and West 4 years before 2030 count

Six places in the South and West will host practice runs four years prior to the 2030 U.S. census, a nationwide head count that helps determine political power and the distribution of federal funds. Residents of western Texas; tribal lands in Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; western North Carolina; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Huntsville, Alabama, will […]

53 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives to speak from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington,...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at false claims around Kamala Harris and her campaign for the White House

The announcement that Vice President Kamala Harris will seek the Democratic nomination for president is inspiring a wave of false claims about her eligibility and her background. Some first emerged years ago, while others only surfaced after President Joe Biden’s decision to end his bid for a second term. Here’s a look at the facts. […]

53 minutes ago

Vice President Kamala Harris walks back into the White House after speaking from the South Lawn of ...

Associated Press

Kamala Harris smashes fundraising record with stunning $81 million haul over 24 hours

NEW YORK (AP) — Kamala Harris is smashing fundraising records as the Democratic Party’s donors — big and small — open their wallets for the vice president in the immediate aftermath of President Joe Biden’s stunning decision to step aside. In total, Harris’ team raised more than $81 million in the 24-hour period since Biden’s […]

56 minutes ago

FILE - Emergency personnel arrive to evacuate people at a mass shelter, Sept. 2, 2021, in Independe...

Associated Press

No prison for a nursing home owner who sent 800 residents to ride out a hurricane in squalor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana businessman who sent more than 800 elderly residents from his seven nursing homes to ride out Hurricane Ida in a crowded, ill-equipped warehouse pleaded no contest to 15 criminal counts Monday and was sentenced to three years of probation. Bob Dean Jr. also must pay more than $358,000 in […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

New Orleans civil rights icon Tessie Prevost dead at 69

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Funeral services will be held Saturday for one of four Black girls who helped integrate New Orleans public schools in 1960. Tessie Prevost Williams, known as one of the “New Orleans Four,” died July 6 following a series of medical complications. She was 69. On Nov. 14, 1960, Prevost Williams, along […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Veterans sue U.S. Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to get access to infertility treatments