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Lawmakers debate women veterans’ access to VA reproductive healthcare

An Air Force veteran sits in the Women Veterans Health Clinic Waiting Room of the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center. (Ron Agnir/AP) As more reproductive-age women become eligible for VA healthcare, lawmakers on Wednesday debated issues including access to contraception, in vitro fertilization and abortion.

The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Subcommittee on Health and Women Veterans Task Force focused on reproductive health services offered to veterans, including limitations on services that could disproportionately affect women, LGBT and poor veterans, according to presiding chairwoman Julia Brownley, D-Calif.

A fast-growing number of women veterans under the age of 45 are becoming eligible for VA benefits and healthcare, according to a 2019 study published in Seminars of Reproductive Medicine. The study reported that there are about 2 million women veterans in the U.S., about 840,000 of whom used VA services in 2015, according to the most recent available report from the VA. Another study in Women’s Health Issues found that the mental health impacts of military service can be linked to infertility.

Dr. Patricia Hayes, the chief officer of women’s health services at the Veterans Health Administration, said the VA has a reproductive mental health consultation team that helps to treat mental health conditions […]

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