Indiana law is first in the Midwest to let patients sue for ‘fertility fraud’

June 15, 2019

Indiana has become the first Midwestern state to allow patients to sue doctors for “fertility fraud” — including instances when a woman being treated for infertility is given the health care provider’s own sperm or ova without permission.

Under SB 174, signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May, “civil fertility fraud” is classified as a Class 6 felony. The new law sets the statute of limitations at either 10 years after the child’s 18th birthday or 20 years after the procedure was performed; or within five years of discovering the fraud via DNA tests. Successful plaintiffs will be entitled to the costs of fertility treatment, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The case of an Indianapolis fertility specialist using his own sperm to impregnate more than 50 women without their consent has received national attention, and helped lead to lawmakers’ actions this year.

In 1995, California became the first state to make fertility fraud a crime, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 1259 in early June. It classifies fertility fraud as sexual assault punishable by between 180 days and two years in a state jail (and an optional fine up of up to $10,000).