‘Fertility fraud’ exposes doctors’ crimes in new bill

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 6:28 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News) - A local state senator wants to put a stop to a crime that can have a lifetime impact.

If passed, a new bill would punish those who abuse their medical power to commit what they call “fertility fraud,” a crime only now emerging for hundreds nationwide decades after it was committed. It happens when fertility doctors, or anyone involved with the reproductive treatment process, gives their own genetic material instead of the intended donor’s to female patients. The New York Times says over the past several years, dozens of certified fertility professionals nationwide have been accused of the crime.

For victims, that can mean taking a DNA test later in life, only to find out they have dozens of half-siblings.

44-year-old Curt Richardson of Bloomington didn’t find out this had happened to him until he took a DNA test last June. As a result, Richardson’s father isn’t the man he thought he was.

“There’s been multiple doctors who’ve decided to take things into their own hands without their patient’s consent, without their mother’s consent, without their father’s consent,” he says.

Current Illinois laws don’t directly address the offense. But Senator Dave Koehler has introduced a bill to put a stop to this in Illinois. Senate Bill 4199 would make the act a Class One felony for the first instance, and a Class X felony for every one after. That’s along with $50,000 dollars in damages to the victim and their family. Illinois would follow the steps taken by Texas, California, and Indiana, who have already passed fertility fraud laws of their own.

For Koehler, it’s a crime who’s purpose he can’t fully comprehend

“What we need to do is that people understand that there are serious consequences if you do this,” he said during a press conference in Springfield Wednesday. “This should not be taken lightly.”

Koehler, a Democrat, adds there’s bipartisan support for the bill. State senator and Republican Jason Barickman is acting as chief co-sponsor.

“Hopefully this never has to be used,” adds Koehler. “I hope now that there are much tighter regulations and a lot more awareness, and if nothing else, just fear of getting caught.”

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