How I missed that this was on the radar in California I have no idea - it's AWESOME! Basically, the laws in CA have been changed so that fertility clinics are no longer required to use sperm that has been quarantined and frozen for 6 months if the woman signs a waiver.

Can I get a Hallelujah?!

Why am I so excited about this? Well, it allows recipients and known donors to take advantage of the inherent protection under CA state law that says if a physician is involved in the insemination, the sperm donor is automatically relieved of all parental rights/responsibilities.

Up until now, CA physicians have been unwilling to use fresh sperm from a known donor due to the liability under the laws surrounding donor sperm. However, under the new law a simple waiver will protect the physician or fertility clinic from this, and should allow same sex couples, single women and their partners to have a formally, legally acknowledged sperm donor relationship that can be upheld in court.

This is fantastic news for both sperm donors and recipients in CA, and I hope serves as a model in other states.

This was accomplished by a couple in CA suing the FDA. One person CAN make a difference - so get out there and make yourselves heard!
In General
Monday, December 31 2012, 11:46 AM
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Tuesday, January 01 2013, 09:56 AM - #Permalink
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Awesome! Definitely a step in the right direction.
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    Wednesday, January 02 2013, 05:01 AM - #Permalink
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    Hurray!! Go California!
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    Wednesday, January 02 2013, 06:30 AM - #Permalink
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    The law does level the playing field in removing the requirements of single women and lesbian couples being forced to use frozen quarantined sperm, however, it would seem that a physician’s assistance is still required to terminate parental rights and responsibilities. The donor would still need to undergo initial STD testing, but the recipient can waive subsequent testing. It would also seem, though not clear, that the recipient must have had prior exposure to the donor’s semen in a non-medical setting (i.e., at-home insemination). Interesting developments …
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    atroeit
    atroeit
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    Thursday, January 03 2013, 11:43 AM - #Permalink
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    How is the "sexually intimate partner" under the new law, defined? Is it prior AI or prior NI? If prior NI, wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of having physician assistance to obtain legal protection, because it cannot be legally proven that the child was conceived through AI with physician assistance or the prior NI? Anyone here with a California legal background?

    Has anyone found any California physician willing to help without an IUI procedure? Without help from health insurance, those costs add up really fast.
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    Thursday, January 03 2013, 01:02 PM - #Permalink
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    @atroeit - this law does not affect anything that happens at home (AI or NI doesn't matter), it only affects the rules by which fertility clinics and physicians are bound. The reason physicians have not been willing to facilitate insemination with a known donor is that they could be held liable for any sexually transmitted diseases, etc. if they do not use sperm that is frozen and quarantined. This law enables them to have the recipient and donor sign a waiver that will eliminate that liability, so that they can use fresh sperm from a man who is not the woman's partner or husband.

    There is no way for the doctor or the fertility clinic to know whether or not you have actually ever tried to inseminate at home prior to seeking fertility treatments. Fertility treatment that is facilitated by a physician is, buy definition, AI.

    This law has no impact on conception done at home by any method. This is an area that we will need further legislation to enable women and their known donor's to sign some sort of legal acknowledgement of the donor/recipient relationship. If we can give people the ability to make end of life decisions for us by signing a Power of Attorney, get it notarized and file it with the County Recorder, I see no reason why we could not do the same for known donors in the future. It's just an area we need to fight for, and in the US at least, has to be done one state at a time.
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    Thursday, January 03 2013, 01:05 PM - #Permalink
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    Thursday, January 03 2013, 01:20 PM - #Permalink
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    Here is a link to the actual text of the law, AB 2356: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB2356

    Some key statements:

    Section 1:
    (d) Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require extensive testing, except when the donor is a “sexually intimate partner” (21 C.F.R. 1271.90). This term is not defined in regulations. Based upon the term’s ordinary meaning, the term has been construed to apply to heterosexual couples with an ongoing relationship. Because the explicit purpose of the term is to allow donation without testing when the recipient has already been exposed, this term can be interpreted to include women who have already attempted at-home inseminations with their donors’ sperm because they have already been exposed through these attempts.
    (e) Although California requires testing in all circumstances, the state authorizes waivers of repeat testing for sperm donors known to the recipient.
    (f) Until the term “sexually intimate partner” is explicitly defined by the FDA, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide a clarification that, for the purposes of tissues donated for reproductive use, a “sexually intimate partner” includes a known or designated donor to whose sperm the recipient has previously been exposed in a nonmedical setting in an attempt to conceive.
    (g) It is also the intent of the Legislature to address the potential for confusion amongst treating professionals regarding prevailing regulations and professional guidelines that reference both the term “sexually intimate partner” and the term “known donor.” Due to this potential, and in recognition that there are multiple entities that regulate physicians and surgeons and the area of assisted reproductive technologies for which the physician or surgeon is accountable, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide physicians and surgeons with immunity when acting in a manner consistent with this law. Both the physician and surgeon who believes this act and the standard of care allows the use of fresh sperm from a known donor to which the woman has already been exposed constitutes a “sexually intimate partner” and the physician and surgeon who believes that the use of fresh sperm in this situation is a violation of professional guidelines and declines to use fresh sperm need assurances that their actions under this new law would not be subjecting themselves to additional professional risk.
    (h) The definition of “sexually intimate partner” is limited to this act and is not intended to have any effect on any provision of the Family Code, including the definition of a “donor” for purposes of determining legal parentage of a child.
    (i) It is not the intent of the Legislature to prevent federal regulators from exercising federal authority over facilities that provide insemination or assisted reproductive technology services.

    Section 2:
    (c) All donors of sperm shall be screened and found nonreactive as required under subdivision (a), except in the following instances:
    (1) A recipient of sperm, from a sperm donor known to the recipient, may waive a second or other repeat testing of that donor if the recipient is informed of the requirements for testing donors under this section and signs a written waiver.

    (vi)(4): A recipient of sperm donated by a sexually intimate partner of the recipient for reproductive use may waive a second or repeat testing of that donor if the recipient is informed of the donor testing requirements of this section and signs a written waiver. For purposes of this paragraph, “sexually intimate partner of the recipient” includes a known or designated donor to whose sperm the recipient has previously been exposed in a nonmedical setting in an attempt to conceive.
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    atroeit
    atroeit
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    Thursday, January 03 2013, 03:56 PM - #Permalink
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    BethG - Good to see that they defined “sexually intimate partner”as basically DIY AI.
    (f) Until the term “sexually intimate partner” is explicitly defined by the FDA, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide a clarification that, for the purposes of tissues donated for reproductive use, a “sexually intimate partner” includes a known or designated donor to whose sperm the recipient has previously been exposed in a nonmedical setting in an attempt to conceive.

    Previously, the legal adviser at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (http://www.nclrights.org) advised that even an IUI at the medical clinic still left all parties legally exposed until the legal adoption is completed. The explanation was that yes, you have physician assistance but you also signed that you are "sexually intimate", so the court will have to decide if the child is the result of the AI at the clinic or the NI elsewhere. Previously, the recipient and donor had to lie that they were "sexual partners". This new law definitely is a big step in the right direction.

    We just need to find "(g)...physician and surgeon who believes this act and the standard of care allows the use of fresh sperm from a known donor" who is willing to help at an affordable price.

    The letdown from this new law is that it does nothing to help the ones who cannot afford the medical procedures. The advice of legal adoption from nclrights.org is, in a way, the closest we have as a solution, especially with all that news about donors getting sued for child support.
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    Friday, January 04 2013, 04:51 PM - #Permalink
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    You are right, it's not 100% of the way there, but it is a very positive step. The other thing it does is set some precedent for legislation in the fertility/family law arena for the express purpose of allowing same-sex and single women the same access to services and rights that heterosexual married women have.

    The next step, and the final one, is a legal way for the donor relationship to be defined WITHOUT the assistance of a physician. That prior to conception, a man can sign some sort of legal form that acknowledges him as a donor only, and terminates he parental rights and responsibilities to any child born of his sperm to the recipient who also signs the document.

    This would do several things. 1) It would provide a legal record of his identity with the state, which could be revealed to the child at 18. 2) It would allow perfectly fertile women who do not happen to have a male partner to have children in the privacy of their own home with the biological partner of their choice, just like straight married women have now.

    We'll get there some day!
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    atroeit
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    Saturday, January 05 2013, 09:27 PM - #Permalink
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    Unfortunately, the NEXT STEP would most likely hit a political argument that it actually goes beyond what straight married women have now. Currently, straight married women have their husbands stand in the donor's place for parental rights and financial responsibilities. With the government's budget deficits and the possibility of abuse of NEXT STEP by "welfare mothers"...... It might stand a better chance if the NEXT STEP includes a legal adoption to balance out the financial concerns.

    Right now, with an anonymous-donor-until-the-child-is-18, the recipient is rightfully concerned that the donor may not show up after 18 years; with a known-donor-waiting-for-child-adoption, the donor is rightfully concerned that the recipient's partner may not proceed with the adoption, and sequence of events that would lead to legal, financial, professional, and personal challenges. The risk is either burdened entirely by the recipient or the donor. What is really needed is a mechanism, sort of like an "escrow", to shift out the risk. Of course, 18 years is an awfully long time for an escrow.

    There are donors and recipients who focus on the woman's rights, and those who focus on the children's rights. There are donors-seeking-sex, donors-seeking-money, donors-seeking-fulfill-biological-imperative, and donors-seeking-spread-acts-of-kindness, etc. The values, motivations, and perspectives are all going to be different and it is very easy talk past each other. This site has already made a lot of contribution as a foundational platform. It would be fantastic if it could evolve to provide the tangible results of NEXT STEP in the most time-efficient, cost-effective, and stress-free interactions, while we wait for the future where the legislative NEXT STEP becomes a reality.;)
    • YVR_Samaritan
      more than a month ago
      Nicely said, atroeit, I especially like your third 'graph.

      Maybe the internet (and society in general) has jaded me, but I'm not optimistic about the chances of creating a common vision that works for all the motivations you outlined, especially considering that recipients have an equally wide range of motivations. For example, if a common set of rules so alienated some of the population here, resulting in splintering and the creation of smaller groups, then I think we'd all be worse off.

      And I also wouldn't lay good odds on the political will coming into play that would be necessary to make changes in assisted reproduction laws happen in isolation, given the relatively small slice of the population that seeks out a resource like KDR. It's more likely to "trickle down" from the slow evolutionary process of society in general, which means it may take a while.

      I think KDR first and foremost needs to be a facilitator of the matchmaking process itself, and I'd say it's doing a great job of that so far. As far as pushing for political / societal change, well... maybe. In some states, the law is so hostile to private donation and same-sex rights that talking loudly about it could actually make things worse, at least in the short term.

      YVR
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    Sunday, January 06 2013, 01:27 PM - #Permalink
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    YVR - you might be surprised how much the two are linked. Yes, KDR is primarily a social resource for people to connect with other people. But the mission and the purpose behind that is to 1) educate and 2) advocate. I could have just as easily created a site with no social elements, but just articles and how-to's on at-home insemination, etc. In fact, that's what I started with. But it wasn't long before I realized that no one would likely ever visit that site, or at least not enough to make a real difference. Not only that, it would have required that I have all the answers, which I of course do not.

    It takes a community to build a community - to build "social norms" and group values that can be shared with newcomers to their advantage. We had to have a LOT of people contributing before this started to happen in any meaningful way, and I can't tell you how AWESOME it is from where I sit to see it happening. It's been happening for the better part of a year now, and it's getting stronger and more vital every day.

    What's next? Absolutely use our collective voices, and our ability to encourage each other and those in our community who face the ugly side of the law, to stand up and ask for changes in legislation. It only takes ONE voice to make change, but that person rarely speaks up without a community of people behind them. We are that community, and we can (and already have) made a difference.
    • YVR_Samaritan
      more than a month ago
      We're doing a lot of talking to ourselves, as evidenced by this thread and several others ongoing now. I agree that's important, since it helps establish local norms around donation and donor/recipient interaction.

      But as far as I can tell, the interaction with people outside the KDR community is limited to word-of-mouth, and the work you've done with the media. That's all well and good, but is that all there is to the advocacy side of things? Do you see a place here on KDR for more formal political advocacy, where the members of the site could somehow participate in interactions with policy-makers, or something like that?

      I'm very curious to know what your vision of the future looks like on the advocacy side of things, and what roles both you AND the membership here can play in shaping that future.

      YVR
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