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N4T Investigators: Fertility bill passes House Judiciary Committee

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The Fertility Fraud bill is getting closer to becoming a law.       

News 4 Tucson Investigators first broke the story about a former Tucson Ob-Gyn doctor who reportedly used his own sperm to artificially inseminate some of his patients.       

One of those patients and her adult children have taken their case before the Arizona state legislature to hold people in the medical profession accountable for their actions.

In February, Senate Bill 1237 unanimously passed the Senate. Now, it also unanimously passed the house judiciary committee. This means only one more stop before it goes to the governor.

Senate Bill 1237 creates a civil action that may be brought against a health care provider for fertility fraud.

It's a case that was brought on when Kristen Finlayson wanted to know more about her heritage especially her dad who was Hispanic. She purchased an over-the-counter DNA kit and learned she had no Hispanic background and her dad who raised her was not her biological father.

Instead, it was Dr. James Blute, her mother's doctor, who also was the biological father of her older brother. She testified before the committee.

"As a victim of fertility fraud, it shook my whole world, " she said.

As well as her mothers, who specifically asked for a Hispanic donor. As the bill stands, it is a civil liability. The mother testified it needs to include criminal.

Debra Guilmette told the committee, "I just hope it's made a criminal offense because it feels like it, it feels like rape."

Jody Mediera is a law professor at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University Bloomington.  She's considered an expert in fertility fraud.  

She says there are currently 20 to 30 open cases of fertility fraud in the U-S and in other parts of the world. She is also responsible for helping four other states pass laws against fertility fraud.

"These physician's intentionally and maliciously wreaked havoc with the physical and emotional psychological well-being of their former patients, partners, and their children," Mediera said. "And Senate Bill 12-37 is needed desperately to hold these physicians accountable."

A vote was taken and House Speaker Russell Bower had some words of encouragement for the mother.

"We hope all will work well with you and to keep your chin up and to keep moving forward.  No one looks down on you. But you were harmed by a beast and I hope we can improve this so we can hold those more accountable," Bower said. "And I vote aye."

Even Jacqueline Parker, the chair of the committee had some final words before voting.

"I'm quite astonished this is a problem and that this is happening," Parker said. "With that I'm glad we're able to participate in resolving this matter and with that I vote aye."

News 4 Tucson spoke with Debra Guilmette after the vote. She was elated it passed and wanted people to know they're doing this to protect others.

"It's not going to do anything for us, it's not retroactive, but it will protect people in the future," Guilmette said. "Other women, their kids."

The bill now goes before the House of Representatives for a vote and if passes there it goes to the Governor for him to sign into law.  

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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