Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a measure making it illegal for a doctor to inseminate a patient with genetic material without her knowledge.
In addition to criminalizing “reproductive battery,” the law (SB 698) puts increased regulations on fertility clinics and aims to prevent unwanted pelvic exams.
With the advent of in vitro fertilization and now with easily accessible genetics tests, some people are learning they have unexpected half-siblings. Plantation Democratic Sen. Lauren Book fronted the effort after reports of fertility doctors using their own sperm to inseminate women who thought they were receiving sperm from a donor.
When the bill goes into effect on July 1, it will be a third-degree felony to inseminate a women with genetic material she did not consent to. If that material belongs to the doctor himself, the offense becomes a second-degree felony.
“The signing of this bill into law is a victory in the fight for women to have control over their own bodies,” Book said in a statement. “Women seeking fertility treatment in Florida will now be protected from a group of predatory physicians who commit selfish narcissistic acts; and pelvic exams will now require specific consent, except in cases of emergency, finally halting the wholly inappropriate practice of unapproved pelvic exams on unconscious women … where at best, these exams have been wrongful learning experiences for medical students or at worst, the equivalent of a sexual assault.”
Book and her husband used IVF to help conceive.
“We put our whole lives, a small fortune and complete faith and trust into the hands of a physician,” Book said.
“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,” she added. “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 also explicitly requires consent before a pelvic examination is performed on a female patient at a hospital. Medical students routinely practice different types of exams on hospital patients, with the patient’s consent.
However, those consent forms often don’t elaborate on specifically which types of exams are approved. Book’s legislation requires pelvic exams to be explicitly listed on a consent form.
During the lower chamber’s debate on the bill, House sponsor Rep. Evan Jenne added a provision extending that ban — sans clear consent — to teaching doctors as well.
“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 said.
The law was one of several signed by the Governor Thursday, including Jordan’s Law.
Florida Politics reporter Ryan Nicol contributed to this report.