Senate panel advances Lauren Book bill increasing fertility clinic oversight
Image via Colin Hackley.

Book drew on her own fertility experience to push for support.

Sen. Lauren Book‘s bill seeking to increase fertility clinic regulation sailed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with unanimous support Tuesday.

Book’s bill (SB 698) would make it a crime for a fertility clinic doctor to inseminate a woman with a person’s genetic material without her knowledge.

Fertility doctors have been busted in the past for using their own sperm to inseminate women who thought they were receiving sperm from an outside donor.

Book drew on her own use of in vitro fertilization to push for support for the measure, which also included a strike all amendment.

“We put our whole lives, a small fortune and complete faith and trust into the hands of a physician,” Book said of she and her husband.

“On my IVF journey, I learned that there are many, many good infertility doctors who do the right thing and work to do the best thing by their patients. But since that time, I’ve come to learn about many others who have fallen prey to careless and even intentional harm inflicted in a largely unregulated industry.”

The bill goes beyond establishing criminal penalties for that conduct, however. The legislation also requires a donor to enter into a contract with the clinic. That contract must include what will be done with the donor’s genetic material in several circumstances, such as when a donor dies, or leaves his or her partner.

The Agency for Health Care Administration will also conduct annual inspections of all donor banks and fertility clinics.

Tuesday’s hearing was the second stop for the bill, which has already been approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A House version of the bill (HB 1287) is being shepherded by Rep. Evan Jenne. That measure emerged from its final committee Tuesday afternoon.

Both meetings featured testimony from Eve Wiley. When she was 16, Wiley found out she was conceived via artificial insemination. At age 19, she reached out and met the man listed as the donor. Wiley says she treated him like her biological father.

But a few years ago, Wiley — now 33 — says she discovered that the fertility doctor her mother used surreptitiously provided the genetic material used to conceive Eve. That doctor was, in fact, Wiley’s biological father.

She has advocated for Texas — her home state — to adopt more stringent laws regulating these clinics. Tuesday, she pushed Florida to do the same.

“I am asking you guys to please vote in favor of this bill,” Wiley said during her speech to the Senate.

“Give these victims a voice because I am here to tell you the pain that this has caused my family, the disruption in genetic identity — I am 33 years old starting over for the third time in my life — this is not ok. Please be their voice.”

Book’s strike all amendment also wrapped in a policy pushed in one of her previous bills. The provision would require consent before a pelvic examination is performed on a female patient at a hospital.

Often, medical students are given time in hospitals to practice a wide array of procedures to prepare those students for an eventual full-time position.

But reports have documented students being given the chance to perform a pelvic exam even when that exam has no medical benefit. While patients often sign off on some kind of consent form before being knocked out, those pelvic exams are not always explicitly mentioned among the possible procedures.

Book ultimately framed the measures as necessary advancements in the age of #MeToo.

“We as a society know better,” Book said. “And now it’s time that we do better. Women’s bodies are their own.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]


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