Felony fertility fraud bill sent to Governor Abbott

It was not a hard sell.

“In the past few years there’s been a growing number of what is referred to as daddy doctors,” said State Rep. Stephanie Klick from the front of the Texas House Floor.

A group of House members stood by the Fort Worth Republican Thursday as she pushed through SB 1259.

The bill, which is co sponsored by state senator Joan Huffman (R) Houston, is a bipartisan reform measure. It targets medical providers who knowingly use human reproductive material on patients, who believe that the donor material for their in vitro fertilization, is from a different source than what they approved.

“This is a person who you really trust, and they betrayed that trust,” said Rep. Klick.

In Texas those who commit fertility fraud currently can only be sued, but lawsuits can be avoided because of the statue of limitations. SB 1259 makes the act a sexually assault felony.

“This would be considered a rape. Because you are doing something without consent,” said Klick.

The bill was prompted by a case out of east Texas. It involves a doctor who allegedly used his sperm to impregnate one of his patients. The child in that case, Eve Wiley, is now grown and lives in Dallas.

Wiley said she learned about her true biological father through a DNA test. Surprisingly the genetic trail did not lead back to the California sperm bank that her mother had selected for a donor. Eventually Wiley’s search became a campaign for change.

“So I have said all along this is about changes. This is not about charges against the doctor and I recognized early on in this process the only healing to take place is make bigger than myself,” said Wiley.

Wiley drove to Austin Thursday and watched from the House Gallery as lawmakers took up the bill.

Anxiety quickly turned to relief, with some closure.

“It is a self regulated industry and there is not a lot out there protecting vulnerable people from bad actors so this has been a moral statement to set a precedent,” Wiley says.

After the vote there were hugs and a brief celebration with several lawmakers who voted for the bill.

The legislation now goes to Governor Abbott for his signature.

The law may be the first of its kind in the country, although reportedly Indiana is considering a similar measure.