Crafted with women who are single or in same-sex relationships in mind, the new law creates an exemption from federal rules requiring fertility clinics to use sperm that either has been quarantined and frozen for six months or provided by a man who is available to undergo repeated testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The California regulations would allow women who already have tried artificial insemination with an acquaintance's sperm at home to waive the freezing or testing requirements in a clinic, just as women who are inseminated with sperm from their sexual partners now can.
The theory is that women in both circumstances are exposed to the same risks of infection, but that the current rules discriminate against women without intimate male partners, according to the text of the law.
Mitchell Rosen, director of the Fertility Preservation Center at the University of California, San Francisco, tells the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/WMxkaI ) the new law will put same-sex couples "on the same playing field" as heterosexual couples by giving them equal access to fertility services.
Among the couples who are hoping to find a faster path to pregnancy in the new year are MeiBeck Scott-Chung and Maya Scott-Chung of Oakland. Maya Scott-Chung gave birth to their daughter eight years ago with a syringe and fresh sperm from a friend. The do-it-yourself method was effective, but was technically illegal because the sample was not tested, according to the Chronicle.
After she couldn't get pregnant again using the same method and the same donor, Maya Scott-Chung turned to a fertility clinic that told her about the federal testing requirements, which the couple found to be time-consuming, costly and unnecessary. They also worried that having to use frozen sperm would reduce her chances of getting pregnant.
"The thought of paying four to five thousand additional dollars to freeze and quarantine (his) 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," Maya Scott-Chung told the Chronicle.
Under the new law, Scott-Chung would be able to declare her friend as a "sexually intimate partner" and sign a waiver releasing the clinic from any liability from any health problems that might result from using fresh sperm that has been tested for communicable diseases only once.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which enforces the federal rules, declined comment on the new law, citing a pending lawsuit brought last summer by a California woman who wants to use artificial insemination from a known donor outside of a clinic and is challenging the testing requirement.