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Texas bill would treat 'fertility fraud' as sexual assault

20 May 2019
Appeared in BioNews 999

A bill to expand the definition of sexual assault to include fertility fraud has been passed by the Texas house of representatives. 

The bill was proposed by Stephanie Klick, state representative for Fort Worth, and Joan Huffman, state senator for Houston, after several cases in which fertility doctors used their own sperm in treatment of patients who had agreed to use an anonymous donor. Eve Wiley, who was conceived in this way, testified before both the Texas house and senate on the issue.

'My mother's fertility doctor chose to use his own sperm instead of the sperm donor my parents consented to and selected,' she told a criminal justice committee in April 2019. 'And he is my biological father, and it is not a crime in the state of Texas.'

As an adult, Wiley contacted the donor through official channels and built a relationship with him. She later took a DNA test and looked for donor siblings. Instead she found out that she was not related to her donor but matched with a relative of her mother's fertility doctor. Their story was the subject of a recent documentary.

The proposed law would not just prevent fertility doctors using their own sperm, but any sperm, egg or embryo from any donor or donors except the one that the patient has expressly consented to. A clinician who knowingly uses other gametes or embryos would be liable to serve a prison sentence between six months and two years and pay a fine of up to US$10,000. 

'This is a person who you really trust, and they betrayed that trust,' Klick said. 'This would be considered a rape. Because you are doing something without consent.' 

The bill unanimously passed a second vote in the house, and now needs to be approved by the state's governor before it becomes law. 

Indiana brought in a fertility fraud law earlier this month, as a reaction to a similar case of a doctor using his own sperm to treat patients without their knowledge (see BioNews 998). However, the Indiana law does not categorise the offence as a sexual assault. 

Felony fertility fraud bill sent to Governor Abbott
Fox Austin 7 |  16 May 2019
Lawmakers Approve Expanding Sexual Assault Charges to Fertility Fraud Cases
Spectrum News Austin |  16 May 2019
Senate Bill 1259 |  1 May 2019
Texas House passes bill classifying fertility fraud as sexual assault
The Texas Tribune |  16 May 2019
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