DENVER (CBS4)– Fertility treatments have made it possible for thousands of couples to have a family but some lawmakers say a lack of transparency in the industry has also made it prime for fraud. Just this week, a jury awarded nearly $2 million to three women who say former Grand Junction obstetrician Paul Jones used his own sperm to impregnate them without their knowledge.
Now, a bill at the state Capitol would allow those conceived through artificial insemination to learn the identity and medical history of their donor when they turn 18. Right now, sperm donors are anonymous so parents often don’t know if a donor’s profile is accurate and people conceived through artificial insemination may not know they have half-siblings.
Senate President Steve Fenberg is one of the bill’s sponsors.
“We all take it for granted we know where we came from. We know who our biological parents are, we know our ancestry, we know our medical history. Are we susceptible to getting certain types of cancer or heart disease? These people don’t have that. They are robbed of that ability to know what some of their background is.”
The bill also requires fertility clinics to be licensed with the state and limits any one donor’s sperm to 10 families.
Shawna Hults only discovered Jones was her father through a DNA test, “Brothers and sisters could be married to each other without knowing.”
She is among 17 half-siblings who’ve discovered their connection to each other and Jones through DNA tests.
“We’re pretty confident that there’s a lot more we just don’t know about yet,” says Maia Emmons-Boring.
She’s among nine of the half-siblings who sued Jones and the clinic where he practiced for 22 years.
“He delivered me. He delivered my sister.”
Growing up, she says, she knew Jones only as her mom’s obstetrician. It wasn’t until a DNA test a few years ago that she learned he was her biological father.
“In my opinion, it’s a human right that I have access to who my paternal family is.”
The bill does not require a clinic to verify a donor’s information. Fenberg says he’s trying to strike a balance that doesn’t dissuade people from donating while providing those conceived through fertility treatments with the information they deserve.
Hults says she just wants to know why Jones did it, “What drove you to do this and what in your mind did you say to yourself that made it okay?”