Washington Senate passes bill criminalizing fertility fraud

Feb 27, 2024, 7:16 PM

Image: An embryologist works on a petri dish at the Create Health fertility clinic in south London,...

An embryologist works on a petri dish at the Create Health fertility clinic in south London, Thursday, Aug. 14, 2013. (File photo: Sang Tan, AP)

(File photo: Sang Tan, AP)

The Washington State Senate approved House Bill 1300 in a 49-0 unanimous decision on Tuesday. The bill criminalizes a health care provider’s intentional act of using their sperm to commit fertility fraud.

The original bill was approved 97-0 in the House.

Stories have emerged across the country of doctors involved in fertility treatment using their own genetic reproductive material to fertilize embryos with or without the knowledge or consent of the patient. It’s also called fraud in assisted reproduction.

The bill is intended to stop the practice in the state by making it an assault in the third degree, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

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“This bill is about safety and justice,” said Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, the bill’s original sponsor. “It cracks down on fertility fraud while safeguarding families from this devastating crime.”

The actions of the doctor or health care provider would also be classified as “unprofessional conduct” regardless of whether they have written consent from the patient.

The Uniform Disciplinary Act empowers disciplinary authorities to investigate complaints of unprofessional conduct and impose appropriate sanctions upon finding wrongdoing.

“We’ve seen more cases come to light with the advent of widespread availability of genetic testing and it simply should be illegal,” said the bill’s Senate sponsor Senator Derek Stanford, D-Bothell.

Assisted reproduction is a method of causing pregnancy by means other than sexual intercourse.

Assisted reproduction includes impregnation by intrauterine or intracervical insemination, donation of gametes, donation of embryos, in-vitro fertilization and transfer of embryos, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

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Because changes were made in the Senate, the bill now heads to the House for concurrence before going to the governor for his signature.

Matt Markovich often covers the state legislature and public policy for KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Matt’s stories here. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

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Washington Senate passes bill criminalizing fertility fraud