Pending Reproductive Rights Bills

November 8, 2012Carole 1 Comment »

With the Fiscal Cliff dominating the political landscape for the foreseeable future, the issue of where we spend our limited tax dollars is going to be a topic of fierce debate. It seems timely to talk about pending infertility-related bills that have budget implications.

The infertility support group Resolve has a webpage devoted to legislative issues and promotes these issues through it’s Center for Infertility Justice. What does the center do? According to RESOLVE, “The Center is where RESOLVE brings together its advocates, supporters, partners, and like-minded organizations to effectively study, defend, and promote infertility.”  Actually, I believe they mean to say “promote treatments for infertility. I doubt they meant to say that they promote infertility, per se. I think it’s fair to say we’d all like to fight infertility, not promote it. 🙂

But more seriously, their goals are to” promote access to care for all who need it, fight any attempts to restrict or eliminate that care, and provide research and data to support positive public policy for the infertility community. RESOLVE, the only patient advocacy group in the U.S. that fights for the rights of women and men who are infertile has seen an increasing need to bring together the community to ensure that our voices are heard. Read the Center for Infertility Justice Blog.”

You can find out what legislature is pending in your state from this page that shows state-by-state legislative activity.

Perhaps the biggest federal legislative initiative is the  Family Act of 2011, S 965/ H.R. 3522 which seeks to make IVF more affordable by giving tax payers a tax credit for out-of-pocket infertility expenses. The information below is copied directly from the Resolve page and provides a concise description and links for more information.

“Updated: July 6, 2012

A second initiative is aimed at improving access to fertility treatments for veterans, their spouses and surrogates. Currently, VA medical benefits for veterans do not include infertility treatment benefits. A US Senate Bill proposed by Senator Patty Murray of Washington would change that.  Nearly 2000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have suffered pelvic and genitourinary injuries which are likely to produce reproductive problems.  Specifically, the bill requires that fertility counseling and treatment, including ART services be provided to a spouse or surrogate of a wounded veteran who has a war injury that impairs their fertility. Because the proposed services would extend to spouse and surrogates, it covers all types of infertility problems. If the veteran is an injured male and now needs ICSI, his wife also now needs IVF for him to reproduce. Currently, the wife’s IVF would not be covered in spite of the fact that without her IVF, her husband’s medical issues can’t be treated.  Likewise, for female veterans who now, because of war-related  pelvic injuries need ART and a surrogate to carry the pregnancy, those treatments would be covered if the law is passed.

Again from Resolve’s website and copied below:

“Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2012 S 3313/HR 6527 Updated: October 31, 2012

Finally, Resolve, supporting all paths to parenthood, also supports the Making Adoption Affordable Act HR 4373/S 3616. Copied below from the Resolve website is more information and links that will take you to more information about how to get involved. This bill would increase the existing adoption tax credit from $10,000 to over  $13,000 and make it permanent.

Updated: October 5, 2012

  • Current status of Bill:  On April 17, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act HR 4373. As of October 5, this bill has 31 co-sponsors. On September 21, Senator Mary Landrieu introduced S 3616. This bill currently has 3 co-sponsors. It has been sent to the Finance Committee for review.
  • Short Description of the Bill:  HR 4373 is the first legislation introduced that would accomplish all of the goals of the Adoption Tax Credit Working Group. The bill would set the adoption tax credit at $13,360 and make it refundable and permanent. The senate bill will mend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the expansion of tax benefits for adoption enacted in 2001 and to permanently reinstate the expansion of tax benefits for adoption enacted in 2010, and for other purposes.
  • Does RESOLVE Support or oppose this Bill: RESOLVE supports this Bill.
  • Link to House of Representatives Bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr4373/text
  • What YOU Can Do Today: Take Action and help us save the adoption tax credit. Click here to download the Adoption Advocacy Kit.
  • Read more about this bill. “

You may be asking yourself, how can we afford to give infertile couples tax credits when we have such a dismal deficit already? Your are correct in that we have limited dollars and must make choices on how to spend the US budget. The answer is that just like a household budget reflects the priorities of the household, the federal budget reflects the priorities of the country. If national defense is the biggest priority, then we will accordingly allocate a majority of our tax dollars to pay for it. If we think taking care of the poor and vulnerable is a priority, we will put money into social programs.

Of course, we  will  continue to spend money on both defense and social programs, but the debate is over how much to spend where. The government will continue to tax us and will continue to spend tax dollars on areas that the US deems important. The only question that remains is will you, as a citizen, speak up and let the government know what your priorities are regarding where those US tax dollars will be spent? If you don’t make your priorities known and don’t fight for them, you can be sure the budget won’t reflect them.

© 2012, Carole. All rights reserved.

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