Lawmakers Want To Punish Doctors Who Inseminate Patients With Their Sperm
Florida lawmakers say it should be a crime for fertility doctors to inseminate patients with their own sperm without consent. Several cases have popped up recently as the popularity of at-home genetic testing has grown--revealing the actions of unscrupulous doctors. But most states have no laws against the act.
Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) says she found out about the need for this bill through her own life experience.
"Four years ago when my husband and I were struggling with the disappointment, after disappointment, after disappointment that comes with infertility, the reality of parenthood seemed completely impossible. During that lonely and often hopeless time, there was nothing I would not have done to become a mother," Book said.
She says eventually she and her husband sought professional help.
"I found myself in a fertility clinic discussing my options--very expensive options that come with zero guarantees of pregnancy," Book said. "We were, as so many couples are, full of hope, completely desperate, and totally vulnerable. We put our whole lives, a small fortune, and complete faith and trust into the hands of a physician."
For Book, it all worked out and she and her husband now have four-year-old twins. But that’s not how it always works. Sometimes a family must rely on a sperm donor. That’s what happened with Eve Wiley’s parents.
What Happens When Parents Choose A Sperm Donor?
"They were given one sheet of paper that listed every single sperm donor from California Cryobank. And it just had one line with physical characteristics, level of education. And they spent weeks pouring over this profile, this one sheet of paper to select their sperm donor," Wiley said.
When Wiley turned 18 she was allowed to go through a process to find her biological father who her mom knew as Donor 106.
“I ended up contacting and finding donor 106, and we began this wonderful father-daughter relationship. I’ve called him Dad for the last 13 years, he officiated my wedding, my kids call him Poppa. And that’s been our story for the last 13 years," Wiley said.
Genetic Testing Exposes A Secret
But two years ago when her son started having health concerns Wiley began to unravel a secret. At her doctor's request she used 23 and me plus health to find out more genetic information about her son.
23andMe plus health, helps people find out if they have certain inherited conditions. It also helps them learn about their ancestry and create a family tree.
"I looked at the ancestry piece and being donor-conceived of course, I probably have half-siblings out there since there are no caps on live births. And what I discovered was I had three half-brothers at the time," Wiley said.
After reaching out to one of them she found out the secret.
"After a closer look we discovered that we were actually first cousins. And I asked him to tell me about his uncles because I had already found dad. And he said he had one uncle and his name is Kim McMorries," Wiley said. "Kim McMorries has been a name that’s been a part of my story since conception because he’s my mother’s fertility doctor."
That’s when Wiley realized something had gone wrong.
"My mom's fertility doctor chose to use his own sperm without my parents' knowledge or consent and he is my biological father."
“My mom’s fertility doctor chose to use his own sperm without my parents' knowledge or consent and he is my biological father," Wiley said.
But McMorries who practices in Texas faced no legal repercussions because of his bad faith work.
“What we found out is this is not a crime in 47 states," Wiley said. "In Texas specifically and anywhere else you don’t have a civil cause of action, you don’t have a criminal cause of action, and in Texas the medical board couldn’t even take action. So he is still practicing today with zero measurable accountability.”
Wiley’s story isn’t unique. A doctor in Virginia is believed to have 75 or more children through involuntary insemination.
Since the Wiley story, Texas has enacted a law making it a sexual assault felony punishable for up to 2 years for a person using sperm during a reproduction procedure that has not been consented for by the patient.
Book’s bill would create a third-degree felony for a physician who performed insemination with unwanted sperm. If the sperm is from the physician its considered sexual battery and would result in a second-degree felony. The legislation has one more stop. The House version is headed to the full House after passing its last stop Tuesday.