CBS Blasts ‘Conservatives in Congress’ Preventing IVF for Veterans

In a dramatically one-sided story for Friday’s CBS This Morning, correspondent Jan Crawford decried: “You know, these stories are heartbreaking. These veterans have sacrificed almost everything for our country and now they have these life-changing injuries that prevent them from having children naturally....The VA can't help because conservatives in Congress 23 years ago passed a law blocking it from paying the costs of IVF [in vitro fertilization] treatments for veterans.”

The report featured Democratic Senator Patty Murray condemning the GOP: “It's just – it’s appalling....I'm so frustrated because it just seems like this is something that’s so common sense, so right, so what we as a country should be doing.”

Later in the segment, Crawford noted: “There now is bipartisan support for change, but the roadblock today is cost. Opponents question how the government will pay for the treatments, which can run into tens of thousands for each treatment.”

Murray hurled accusations: “They are hiding behind, right now, funding.” Crawford replied: “You see the money issue, that, ‘Oh, we can't afford this,’ is just an excuse?” Murray declared: “When it comes to taking care of our veterans, money should never be an excuse for procedures that allow them to be whole again.”

At no point in the nearly five-minute story did Crawford speak to a Republican member of Congress about the policy.

Following Crawford’s taped report, co-host Charlie Rose proclaimed: “This is one more reminder that budgeting has consequences and affects human lives.” Fellow co-host Gayle King added: “I like Senator Murray, ‘When it comes to taking care of our veterans, money should not be an issue here.’ It really does – she said it seems to defy common sense.”
                                
Co-host Norah O’Donnell chimed in: “I hope someone will step in and help them immediately before Congress can.”

King concluded: “Jan's story’s gonna make a difference, my prediction.”

While CBS was eager to cover the controversy surrounding in vitro fertilization, all three broadcasts networks have ignored developments in the scandal swirling around the Department of Veterans Affairs. In April, an Associated Pres report found that the backlog of medical treatment for veterans had not improved one year after the scandal first erupted.

Here is a full transcript of the June 5 report on This Morning:

8:19 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: Servicemen and women who are wounded in war have to rebuild their lives. The goal of having a family keeps many of them going, but an act of Congress prevents some of those veterans from using in vitro fertilization. Jan Crawford is in Washington, where there's a growing effort to try and change that. Jan, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Fertility Fight; Gov’t Refuses to Pay for Veterans’ IVF Treatments]

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning. You know, these stories are heartbreaking. These veterans have sacrificed almost everything for our country and now they have these life-changing injuries that prevent them from having children naturally. But a law from 23 years ago is forcing the VA to say, “You're on your own.”

As they looked toward their future, Alex and Holly Dillman always dreamed it would include children. But in a second tour in Afghanistan, Alex, an Army staff sergeant and squad leader, was critically injured by a roadside bomb. He had 25 surgeries and spent more than a year in the hospital. What got Alex and Holly through it were the dreams.

HOLLY DILLMAN: We would talk about what our life was going to be like when we got out of the hospital. That was getting a house, that was getting our dog. That was Alex returning back to work, getting a career. And that was having a child one day.

CRAWFORD: But that dream drifted further away when they were told Alex's injuries left him paralyzed.

DILLMAN: We can't even try to have kids on our own because of his injuries. We can't. We have got to utilize the technology offered to us by in vitro fertilization.

CRAWFORD: The Dillmans are not alone. The wars of the last decade brought home thousands of veterans like Alex, who suffered devastating injuries from bomb blasts leaving them unable to conceive naturally. Returning home with hopes of rebuilding a normal life, they instead face a harsh reality. The government does not cover the expense of in vitro fertilization so they can have children of their own.

DILLMAN: Having to accept and then deal with the fact that they have these types of injuries is one thing, but then saying that you're not going to be given the help that you need to be able to work with what you've got, I mean, it's – it’s very insulting.

CRAWFORD: The VA can't help because conservatives in Congress 23 years ago passed a law blocking it from paying the costs of IVF treatments for veterans.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY [D-WA]: It's just – it’s appalling.

CRAWFORD: Washington Senator Patty Murray has worked for five years to change the law.

MURRAY: I'm so frustrated because it just seems like this is something that’s so common sense, so right, so what we as a country should be doing.

CRAWFORD: The Pentagon pays for fertility treatment as long as they're in active duty, but for some wounded warriors, that is a benefit they can't take advantage of during they're in recovery.

ALEX DILLMAN: It's really unrealistic for soldiers in my position with the types of injuries they have to be juggling both those things, rehab and trying to start a family.

CRAWFORD: Six months before he was discharged from the Army, the couple went through their first round of IVF. When it failed, they quickly tried another before the government's window closed.

HOLLY DILLIMAN: Not only are we going to the IVF, which could be stressful in and of itself, but we were doing so under the pressure of needing to have them done prior to him retiring. I mean, that's a lot of pressure. And then there's the emotional component of being reminded that we can't do this ourselves.

CRAWFORD: There now is bipartisan support for change, but the roadblock today is cost. Opponents question how the government will pay for the treatments, which can run into tens of thousands for each treatment.

MURRAY: They are hiding behind, right now, funding.

CRAWFORD: You see the money issue, that, “Oh, we can't afford this,” is just an excuse.

MURRAY: When it comes to taking care of our veterans, money should never be an excuse for procedures that allow them to be whole again.

CRAWFORD: The Dillmans are trying again. In their new home built by a veteran's group a nursery is furnished with books and clothes and a crib that lays empty.

HOLLY DILLMAN: It's been stressful, we’ve had to sacrifice and we're just ready to move on with our life and have a family just like anybody else and have that dream. We want the American dream.

CRAWFORD: Now, Holly and Alex are starting another round out-of-pocket this month and they're hoping for a boy. And if all goes as planned, that boy’s middle name will be Christopher. It’s in memory of Sergeant Christopher Gould, who died in a blast that paralyzed Alex. And Alex said Sergeant Gould had the heart of a lion, something he hopes will be passed on to his son. Gayle?

CHARLIE ROSE: This is one more reminder that budgeting has consequences and affects human lives.

GAYLE KING: That’s right.

NORAH O’DONNELL: Yeah.

KING: I like Senator Murray, “When it comes to taking care of our veterans, money should not be an issue here.” It really does – she said it seems to defy common sense.

O’DONNELL: I hope someone will step in and help them immediately before Congress can.

ROSE: As she said, make their lives whole again.

KING: Jan's story’s gonna make a difference, my prediction. Thank you, Jan Crawford.

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