Doctors who artificially inseminate patients with their own sperm or that of other donors without a patient’s permission will soon be subject to felony charges and civil lawsuits.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1014, which had bipartisan support, into law on Monday.
The bill was introduced after Grand Junction gynecologist Dr. Paul B. Jones was accused last year of using his own sperm to impregnate women over three decades.
Health care providers who use a donor without consent from a patient can be charged with a class 6 felony and face up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The penalties would apply to insemination, donation of eggs or sperm, donation of embryos, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, and sperm injections.
Doctors can also be sued “for unprofessional conduct” under their medical licenses, and if they lose, would have to pay attorney and legal fees, as well as damages determined through the legal process or $50,000 per child.
Republican Sen. Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs, a bill sponsor, said Monday he doesn’t expect the law to be used often, but it will give those who have been victimized a way to pursue civil action.
“It’s very devastating for those who discovered this for all sorts of reasons you can imagine, not to mention the simple fact that when you have that many people who have had the DNA of one individual, they may be meeting their half brother and half sister, and the implications are just really bizarre and disturbing and life-changing for the people who have been affected,” he said.
The law will go into effect 90 days after the General Assembly’s June 15 adjournment.