AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A tearful East Texas woman sat before a panel of lawmakers in April, preparing to share her story. That story involved how she came to be alive, and a secret about her father she never expected to uncover.
Eve Wiley was conceived through artificial insemination. She found that out snooping through her mom’s emails when she was 16. But, that’s not the surprise.
Her parents turned to an infertility specialist, who helped the couple select “Sperm Donor 106.” When she turned 19, she was connected with that man.
“We began a father-daughter type relationship in which I call him Dad, we say ‘I love you,'” Wiley told lawmakers in an committee hearing last month. “I know — a little unconventional — my kids call him ‘Papa,’ we spend holidays together, and he actually officiated my wedding when I decided to get married.”
It wasn’t until Wiley’s four-year-old began to have “some pretty significant medical issues,” compounded with health problems other family members had exhibited, that she turned to genealogical sites (at the direction of her son’s doctors) to try to find out any extra information she could about her family history, wanting to know more about her biological father’s family.
She quickly found she had three half-siblings. Two of them knew they were donor-conceived, and the third did not. Further discussion with that third relative turned up the most shocking surprise of Wiley’s life.
“I said, ‘Well, we may be first cousins. Tell me about your uncles,’ and he said he had one uncle that was from my area and he said his name. And, I said: ‘Oh my God, that is my mother’s fertility doctor,” Wiley recalled.
And then: the realization.
“My mother’s fertility doctor decided to use his own sperm instead of the sperm donor that my parents selected, consented to and did this without their consent and without their knowledge,” she said.
It was Wiley’s circumstances, and the circumstances of others like her in other states, that inspired legislation this session at the Texas Capitol to penalize doctors who use their own sperm instead of donor sperm during artificial insemination.
After unanimously passing the state Senate last month, that legislation officially passed the Texas House Friday in a 139-0 vote.
Senate Bill 1259, by Houston Republican Joan Huffman, would extend the statute of limitations on “fertility fraud” to two years from the date the offense was discovered. It also defines the offense as sexual assault, punishable as a state jail felony.
The legislation also redefines sexual assault to include if “the actor is a health care services provider who, in the course of performing an assisted reproduction procedure on the other person, uses human reproductive material from a donor knowing that the other person has not expressly consented to the use of material from that donor.”
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Forth Worth, sponsored the bill in the House.
“(Fertility fraud) would be considered a rape. You’re doing something without consent. You are not getting consent,” Klick said Thursday after the chamber gave the initial approval on the bill.
Klick, a nurse, said doctors using sperm from someone other than the chosen donor “crosses so many ethical barriers that should not happen.”
“This is a person that you really trust and they’ve betrayed that trust,” she explained.
Wiley, who was visibly upset chronicling her life to lawmakers, concluded her testimony with a simple summary: “This man was my mother’s doctor. He was not her donor.”
State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who chairs the Criminal Justice committee in which the bill was heard, told Wiley he understood her hesitancy to share, but explained, “through your testimony, in the future, we will be able to hold people accountable.”
The bill heads to the Governor’s desk for a signature.