House passes stricter fertility clinic protections, but must go back to Senate
Lauren Book shakes up the Senate Democratic leadership.

lauren book
The House's changes would close a loophole in Sen. Lauren Book's bill.

The House on Wednesday passed Sen. Lauren Book‘s bill to criminalize medically inseminating or conducting a pelvic exam without prior patient consent.

However, the proposal will to go back to the Senate for final approval after state Representatives closed a loophole Tuesday that Rep. Evan Jenne said could let teaching doctors perform pelvic exams without consent even though it blocked students from conducting such an exam.

Book’s bill (SB 698) garnered unanimous support in both the House and Senate. It carries two provisions (HB 1287 and HB 1289) that also received unanimous House support.

The headlining feature creates a third-degree felony called “reproductive battery” for intentionally inseminating a woman with someone’s DNA without the woman’s consent. Someone intentionally using their own genetic material to inseminate a patient would be subject to a second-degree felony.

With the advent of in vitro fertilization and now with easily accessible genetics tests, some people are learning they have unexpected half-siblings. Instead of inseminating women with the requested genetic material, some fertility doctors have given recipients someone else’s sperm, including their own.

“A very select few engage in a very dark practice. Male doctors engage in using their own sperm to inseminate patients without that patient’s consent,” said Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat. “It sounds completely far-fetched. Unfortunately, it is a very real issue.”

Book, a Plantation Democrat described it to Senators as the “Wild Wild West,” noting many state’s laws, including Florida’s, have not caught up to medical science.

A person who believes they have a different father ends up with an incorrect medical history. The cascading effect can touch future generations too.

The bill also bans pelvic examinations without the patient’s explicit consent except in emergencies and special cases. But Jenne said the bill, before his amendment, created an unintended loophole for doctors to perform exams on a women in front of students without her consent.

“We were afraid that even though while it might stop medical students from doing it that you could still have this situation where a teaching doctor was performing a pelvic floor exam on an unconscious, unconsenting women while the medical students just stood there and watched, but it was still happening,” Jenne told Florida Politics.

Book and the Senate will accept the House’s change when it returns to their side of the rotunda. Jenne called the change bipartisan.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


One comment

  • Florida Voice for the Unborn

    March 11, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    Since Mr. Downey — a “reporter”/ apparent press agent for Senator Book and Rep. Jenne — refuses to acknowledge press releases from pro-life organizations, Florida Voice for the Unborn will include its comments about Senate Bill 698 below (in full):

    “With just a few days remaining in the annual Florida Legislative Session, the Tallahassee Swamp has struck again – and, unfortunately, it’s the unborn who will suffer as a result. Florida Voice for the Unborn is disgusted with the leadership of the House of Representatives for permitting a vote on Senate Bill 698 tonight. This bill, sponsored by pro-abortion state Senator Lauren Book (D – Plantation), seeks to address the issue of unscrupulous fertility doctors using their own sperm to impregnate female patients. While that is a noble aim, the bill also contains language that fundamentally violates the dignity of human life in its most vulnerable state, i.e. as a tiny zygote.

    Florida Voice for the Unborn has vehemently objected to Senate Bill 698 because it contains a novel definition of ‘reproductive material.’ As defined in the bill passed tonight, ‘reproductive material’ is ‘any human ‘egg’ or ‘sperm’ as those terms are defined in s. 742.13, or human zygote.’ The next line of the bill then defines ‘zygote’ as ‘a fertilized ovum.’

    Florida Voice for the Unborn’s position is that a unique human being comes into existence at the moment of fertilization. As unique human beings, zygotes can never be considered the equivalent of ‘sperm’ and ‘eggs’ — and cannot be termed under the law as ‘reproductive material.’

    For the past few weeks, Florida Voice for the Unborn has been sounding the alarm about Senate Bill 698, which has been deeply flawed and agenda-driven from its inception. It is a trojan-horse that seeks to sneak an anti-human life provision through the backdoor into Florida law.

    After the Florida Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 698 last Thursday, March 5th, Florida Voice for the Unborn remained hopeful that the much more conservative House of Representatives would decline to take-up Senate Bill 698 and let the clock run out. However, that turned-out not to be the case. Instead, the House actually made the bill worse by voting for an amendment proposed by pro-abortion Representative Evan Jenne (D – Broward County). Not only did Representative Jenne’s amendment leave the objectionable definition of ‘reproductive material’ intact, but the amendment returned to the use of the term ‘embryo’ by adding provisions to the bill that imply human embryos are not unique human beings but rather are ‘things’ that are in the possession of others.

    The responsibility for the passage tonight of Senate Bill 698 lies with the leadership of the House of Representatives. In fact, in explaining his amendment on the floor Tuesday night, Representative Jenne said as much, and he thanked by name incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls, among other pro-life Republicans. The last-minute shenanigans are exactly why grassroots pro-lifers consistently remain suspicious of politicians who claim to be pro-life on the campaign trail, but once in office do not provide pro-life leadership. And, the Tallahassee Swamp has always been much thicker than the one in Washington, D.C.”

    Florida Voice for the Unborn is a new grassroots Tallahassee-based lobbying group that only focuses on pro-life issues impacting the unborn. It is strictly independent, and its work is guided by faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. Florida Voice for the Unborn supports all peaceful efforts by elected officials and others to end abortion and save lives. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @UnbornVoiceFL – and visit our website.

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