Friday, August 19, 2022

Reps. Bice, Sherrill introduce bipartisan 'Protecting Families from Fertility Fraud Act'

Bice, Sherrill Introduce Bill in Response to "Our Father" Documentary

Washington, D.C. (August 17th) — After watching the Netflix documentary, "Our Father," Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 8600, the Protecting Families from Fertility Fraud Act. This legislation would establish a new federal crime for knowingly misrepresenting the nature or source of DNA used in assisted reproductive procedures and other fertility treatments. This new crime sets a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and includes fines and mandatory restitution to victims.

This legislation also adds the new crime as a “predicate offense” of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, providing enhanced subpoena and prosecutorial avenues in instances where there is a pattern of behavior involving multiple alleged offenses.

Congresswoman Bice issued the following statement:

“After watching the ‘Our Father’ documentary, I was appalled that there has been no justice for the families who have been impacted by this heartbreaking situation. This is why I introduced the Protecting Families from Fertility Fraud Act, to criminalize these horrific actions by doctors like Dr. Cline. It is imperative that we prevent these tragic situations from ever happening again and protect families from future predators. I am grateful for the support of my colleague Rep. Sherrill, and for the advocacy of the victims who suffered from these heinous acts.”

Congresswoman Sherrill issued the following statement:

“The rise of at-home DNA testing has uncovered the appalling practice of ‘fertility fraud,’ a heinous and intentional misconduct that is unethical and unacceptable. We must seek justice for these families. That’s why my colleague Congresswoman Bice and I are working together to protect the rights of female patients, their partners, and their children. This legislation will crack down on reproductive fraud by making it a federal crime to misrepresent the source of DNA used in these extremely personal fertility treatments and allow families to seek justice in the court system.”

Joint statement from victims of fertility fraud:

"We are very thankful to Congresswoman Bice and Congresswoman Sherrill and their dedicated, talented staff for taking an interest in this extremely important issue by introducing a narrowly tailored fertility fraud bill, HR 8600. 

This bill, initiated by victims and advocates, is a critical step to allowing fertility fraud victims to seek accountability. Most families learn that they are victims of fertility fraud decades later, when the adult children born from these incidents take commercial DNA testing kits. Fertility fraud has a devastating toll on families that is traumatic, shaking personal identities and family relationships to their cores. 

The adult children born from fertility fraud must face the terrible task of informing their parents of these violations. Mothers feel shameful emotions from an extremely intimate invasion of bodily autonomy, as if they were raped by the doctors they once respected so highly. They are afraid that holding their physician accountable will make their child feel unwanted. Fathers struggle to cope with learning their wife’s physician violated her in the most intimate way and grieve the loss of a genetic relationship with the child they thought was their own. Adult children undergo profound identity crises, and often experience tensions between getting to know new family members or honoring the wishes of relatives who want to pretend nothing happened. It was never the standard of care for physicians to use their own sperm to impregnate patients without their knowledge or consent. 

We hope that the passage of this bill will return agency to fertility fraud victims, and respectfully request legislators’ support on this version."



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