033022CM0203 rSPRINGFIELD When Bloomington resident Curt Richardson got his DNA test results back from Ancestry.com, his life – and those of his parents – changed forever when they learned they had been victims of fertility fraud.

Richardson’s story is similar to hundreds of others across the state and nation who have lived most of their lives thinking the very people who raised them were their biological parents. State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is working to bring awareness to fertility fraud and provide justice to the families who fall victim to the heinous act.

“Fertility fraud is an issue that we have been silent on for far too long,” Koehler said. “It is my goal to end the silence surrounding the issue and outlaw the practice once and for all.”

Fertility fraud occurs when a health care provider knowingly or intentionally uses their own human reproductive cells during an assisted reproductive treatment without the patient’s informed written consent.

When Richardson received his at-home DNA test results in June of 2021, he knew he couldn’t be silent. A former Peoria resident, he reached out to Koehler for help to ensure that if any other Illinoisans becomes victim of fertility fraud, they would be able to take legal action.

Senate Bill 4199 would create the Illinois Fertility Fraud Act, which would allow people to bring action against health care providers, embryologist or any other person who knowingly or intentionally use their own reproductive cells without the patient’s informed written consent.

Under the measure, if a person knowingly or intentionally provides assisted reproductive treatment to a patient by using their own reproductive cells without written consent, that person would be considered to have committed criminal sexual assault.

Illinois would join states like Texas, California and Indiana in outlining penalties for fertility fraud. The Illinois Fertility Fraud Act, the staunchest legislation of its kind currently being considered, is most similar to the legislation passed in Indiana, brought about in 2019 after a woman’s Ancestry.com DNA test revealed she had at least 50 biological half siblings due to a fertility doctor using his own sperm to impregnate his patients throughout the 70s and 80s.

“Today Illinois has taken an important step to become the ninth state to prohibit the deplorable act of fertility fraud,” Richardson said. “This legislation will hold those accountable who have sexually assaulted their patients, violated the medical standard of care and sacred doctor-patient trust, and upended the lives of their patients, their spouses and children.”

Richardson joined Senator Koehler at a press conference Wednesday morning to discuss fertility fraud and how it will be brought to an end in Illinois through the Illinois Fertility Fraud Act. The legislation awaits further deliberation.

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