September 28, 2022

Washington state may criminalise fertility fraud

As more and more people discover through DNA tests that they are “doctor-conceived” instead of donor-conceived, Washington State’s Senate Committee on Law and Justice is studying a bill which would outlaw “fertility fraud”.

NPR journalists spoke with three people about the issue.

A donor-conceived woman was devastated.

“I don’t think there’s words to really put out there to capture the absolute annihilation of a sense of trust, a sense of who you are, where you came from. Even where you are, your place in this world.” Traci Portugal, who discovered that her biological father was her mother’s gynaecologist.

An IVF specialist was horrified, but tried to put fertility fraud in its historical context:

“I think just the concept of a fertility physician donating their own sperm to their patient is embarrassing and horrifying to me and probably to everyone else in my field, let alone that it sounds like it’s being done frequently enough that there are other states that are wanting to criminalize it. I would guess that for the most part this was done before sperm banks were available and sperm was available frozen. And there were probably no consents, nothing written. So it’s going to be a very difficult thing to prosecute.” Dr Leona Marshall is co-founder and medical director of Pacific NW Fertility.

A lobbyist for the bill says that it could happen again:

“I do think it will still occur, I mean, we do have bad apples that continue to do things that they shouldn’t be doing. We have a crime against rape, and people still commit rape. So while I don’t think that many people are still using their own sperm, I do think there are some doctors out there who will continue to do that.” Kara Rubenstein Deyerin, the CEO and co-founder of Right to Know.