Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Insemination rules will be eased by new law

MeiBeck Scott-Chung, left, and Maya Scott-Chung, here with 8-year-old Luna, learned about the bureaucratic rules when they wanted a second pregnancy. A new law will ease those rules. Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle photo

By
From page A5 | December 30, 2012 |

By Stephanie M. Lee

Eight years ago, Maya Scott-Chung gave birth to the girl she and her female partner had been waiting for. To make the conception possible, a friend had handed over his sperm in an artichoke jar — an act that was casual, straightforward and, under federal law, illegal.

Now, the Scott-Chungs once again want to use their friend’s sperm to get pregnant, this time in a legally sanctioned medical clinic. But the Oakland couple are finding the lawful path they’ve chosen to be the far more problematic one.

Under current law, any woman who wants to become pregnant with an acquaintance’s sperm must verify his health in tests and undergo other procedures, rules that the Scott-Chungs view as costly and time-consuming.

On Tuesday, that process will change in California.

That’s when a new law will take effect, making fertility services more accessible for Californians seeking to start a family through nontraditional means. Among those it will help are same-sex female couples, low-income women and single women.

“It removes a lot of barriers so women can become pregnant using the sperm of the donor of their choice,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who introduced the legislation. It was co-sponsored by Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

FDA’s reasoning

The current law is designed to protect women without a traditional male partner from unknowingly ending up with a sexually transmitted disease by using, for example, a friend’s sperm and a turkey baster.

Under rules set up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a donor is required to either freeze and quarantine his sperm for screening or have his blood and urine tested in a medical setting within a week of transferring his sperm to the woman.

The new law aims to ease the frustrations of aspiring mothers like Maya Scott-Chung. She said she didn’t know of the existing rules in 2003, when she began trying to start a family with MeiBeck Scott-Chung, her partner since 1997.

Instead of using a sperm bank, the couple wanted a known donor who shared their collective Asian/Latino heritage and could provide fresh sperm, which would give them the best chance for pregnancy.

In the end, they chose Daniel Bao, a local, gay Chinese man originally from Argentina. He brought a glass artichoke jar with his sperm to their house, and MeiBeck injected its contents into Maya with a syringe. In October 2004, at age 38, she gave birth at home to a daughter, Luna.

Four years later, when the couple wanted another child, they tried at-home insemination once again, but to no avail. So Maya decided to do an intrauterine insemination under a doctor’s supervision. That’s when she learned of the FDA regulations that she said effectively prohibited her from using Bao’s fresh sperm.

Too high a cost

Freezing and quarantining his sperm for six months wouldn’t work, she said, because the cost was unaffordable and she was 42 at the time.

“The thought of paying four to five thousand additional dollars to freeze and quarantine Daniel’s sperm when he was right there, and especially since we’d had a baby with him … it just didn’t really make sense to us,” said Maya, 46, a project development coordinator at a fertility clinic.

To date, she estimates that she and her partner have spent $10,000 on fertility procedures not covered by insurance.

A similar complaint inspired a lawsuit that an Oakland woman brought against the FDA last summer. The woman, a lesbian who wants to conceive with a friend’s sperm without paying for medical services, is arguing that the rules are expensive, bureaucratic and unconstitutional.

The federal law provides for one exception. If the sperm donor is a recipient’s “sexually intimate partner,” in the FDA’s words, he will not have to undergo multiple tests for such diseases as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.

The agency does not define what it means by “sexually intimate partner,” but until now it has been used to apply to heterosexual couples in a relationship, according to Skinner’s legislation.

Broader definition

The new law broadens “sexually intimate partner” to include a donor whom the recipient knows and whose sperm she has already used to try to conceive at home. That means the Scott-Chungs’ donor will need to be tested just once to give fresh sperm, as long as Maya signs a waiver. He can be tested multiple times, but only upon her request.

The bill, AB 2356, encountered little organized opposition, except from the California Right to Life Committee, and sailed through the state Legislature in September.

The FDA declined to comment on the new law, citing a pending lawsuit.

The new law puts same-sex couples such as the Scott-Chungs “on the same playing field” as heterosexual couples by giving them equal access to fertility services, said Dr. Mitchell Rosen, director of UCSF’s Fertility Preservation Center.

It also subjects them to the same risks, he noted. Heterosexual couples can transmit diseases when they have sex. Similarly, if a sperm donor gets a disease after being tested, “it’s possible to contract a condition that the recipient would not know about,” Rosen said.

With the new law about to take effect, Maya said, she and her partner have renewed hope for growing their family.

“As someone who really believes in equal fertility access and thinks that everyone who wants to have children should have the ability to do that,” she said, “it’s a very significant moment.”

— Reach Stephanie M. Lee at slee@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

.

News

A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

 
Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Yoga and chanting workshop planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

 
Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Weir honored, a year early

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
For a good cause

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The magic is long gone

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
What’s next with Ebola?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

More theories on the abstention

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Rights beget responsibilities

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Water returns to its source

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A solution to the drought

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Experience nature’s treasures

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Subs have other concerns

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

.

Sports

DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks suffer from road woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Features

.

Arts

DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Calling all artists for upcoming show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Lewis Melvin Dudman

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Ann Foley Scheuring

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B3