Fertility fraud is legal in Michigan. Lawmakers are looking to change that.

A move to ban doctors from using their own genetic material instead of a donor’s when performing an assisted reproductive procedure is a step closer to reality after House lawmakers gave substantive approval to a series of bills that would want to do just that.

The five-house bill package – consisting of HB 5713, HB 5714, HB 5715, HB 5716 and HB 5717 – would collectively make it illegal for a doctor to assist in a reproductive procedure such as artificial insemination using an embryo, sperm or egg other than the one to which the patient consented.

It will also prohibit that doctor from providing false or misleading information related to that procedure as well.

Most of the bills passed the House on June 30 by unanimous votes, except for HB 5716 and HB 5717, which passed by 67-39 and 73-33 votes, respectively. Each of those bills deal with assigning criminal penalties to the act of reproductive fraud.

Rep. John Roth, R-Traverse City, who spearheaded the bill package, said he was first made aware of the issue by a part of him who contacted him after taking a DNA test through the company 23andMe . Although the woman was assured by her biological mother that she was 100 percent Scottish, 50 percent from her mother and 50 percent from her donor, the test results indicated otherwise.

It turned out the woman, Jamie Hall, was conceived by her mother and sperm used from dr. Philip Peven, a fertility specialist in the metro Detroit area. The DNA test indicated that it was Peven, not Hall’s father, who was her biological father.

Hall spoke candidly about the experience when he testified earlier this year about the need for the accounting package, saying that Peven had been callous in describing why and how he got rid of the sample her mother had chosen to use his own genetic material instead. use.

Roth said that Hall, at the time of her testimony, has since learned that she has 23 siblings since the DNA test was taken. Since then, she has learned that she has at least 10 more – which she didn’t know about before the test.

There are currently no laws in Michigan that prohibit such an event from happening, and that’s what Roth and other lawmakers want to change.

“They want to know their health. That’s the big deal for them,” Roth said, of the now-adults born from incidents like this. “They want to know what their health history is. What should I watch out for?”

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Under the package, a person who knowingly, intentionally or willfully engages in an act that they know – or even reasonably believe – provides false or misleading information relating to an assisted reproductive procedure is guilty of an offense involving is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of $50,000 or both.

This would include making a false or misleading statement about the human embryo or gamete used to provide for assisted reproduction and the identity of a donor of the human embryo or gamete used or provided for assisted reproduction , including the donor’s name, date of birth or address at the time of donation.

An example Roth gave was a sperm donor who lied about his education level, saying he was a Harvard graduate when he knew he only had a GED, or omitting that they had a mental health diagnosis at the time of donating his sperm.

It will also include donor’s medical history, including current illness at the time of donation, any previous illnesses, any history of diagnosed mental illness, the social history of the donor, any known genetic defects, the family medical history of the donor or the donor’s level of education.

Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit, said she was horrified to learn that fertility fraud wasn’t already illegal in Michigan when she first decided to sign on to the package as the sponsor of HB 5713.

“It’s rape, in one of the most vulnerable ways – as if to make the patient think it’s okay. … They cannot fight for themselves. They can’t do anything. It’s disgusting,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it wasn’t already a law.”

The bills also cover cases where a healthcare professional who knowingly or recklessly uses or supplies a human embryo or gamete, including his or her own human embryo or gamete, for assisted reproduction other than the specific one to which the patient has expressly consented in writing, is guilty of is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

Charges regarding lying about information related to an assisted reproductive procedure — or using a biological item other than the one agreed to as part of the reproductive procedure — can be found and filed within 15 years of the offense.

However, if evidence of the offense is obtained and that evidence contains DNA determined to be from an unidentified individual, an indictment may be found and filed at any time after the offense is committed, except that within 15 year after the offense will have to be filed. the identification of the individual.

A person who gave birth through assisted reproduction as a result of the false representation, the patient’s spouse at the time of the assistance services, an individual conceived through said services or a donor whose gamete or human embryo resulted in the birth of a child as a result of the false representation is among the parties that can initiate legal action in terms of the bill package.

The bills also set out a framework for how the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) can investigate an allegation, and potentially take disciplinary action, against a health professional accused of lying or deliberately misrepresenting genetic material used during assisted reproduction. procedure.

The package will now go to the Senate for further consideration at a future committee hearing.

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