How political polarization ruins lives

Okay, dramatic title, but I just listened to a fascinating NPR story on how active duty military can get IVF as a benefit, but as soon as you are a veteran, you cannot.  Obviously, with the many horrendous issues that come with military service, IVF is often the only way for veterans to be able to start a family.  Well, that’s not fair, so Senator Patty Murray has been working to fix this and make IVF accessible to veterans.  Alas:

In the decades since Congress banned IVF for the VA, the procedure has become much more common. And about 1,400 troops came back from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe injuries to their reproductive organs. Thousands more have head injuries, paralysis or other conditions that make IVF their best option.

Bills to change the law come up periodically, only to be blocked at the last minute, says Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington. “They don’t come out and say that directly, but there continues to be a backroom concern about the practice of IVF,” Murray says. Murray’s bipartisan IVF bill nearly passed last summer.

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is staunchly against abortion rights, effectively blocked it. [emphasis mine]  Tillis declined requests for comment, but said at the time that he opposed the bill because other problems at the VA need to be fixed first.

Ugh.  And you should read (or listen) to the NPR story that tells the very compelling tale of one veteran’s family.

So, why is the title of this post about polarization?  Because, North Carolina is a moderate state.  We are pretty closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.  Yet, when a Republican wins the election, it is a far-right Republican.  There’s nothing moderate about Thom Tillis.  You get a Republican Senator and you get somebody who would deny IVF to somebody injured fighting for his country because he’s more concerned about embryos.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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