nevodka/iStock(DALLAS) — The Dallas woman featured in a recent 20/20 investigative documentary report that revealed that her mother’s fertility doctor was actually her real biological father, and not the sperm donor her mother said she had selected, finally got the good news she has been lobbying for.
Texas will be the first state to make it a sexual assault crime for a health care provider to knowingly implant sperm, eggs or embryos from a donor that the patient has not expressly consented to use.
Eve Wiley, 31, said it was a leap forward for the assisted reproductive industry and that it will help protect women’s reproductive rights during fertility treatment.
“I feel incredibly validated, empowered and relieved,” Wiley said. “This is a moral statement that this is wrong.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into effect Tuesday, and it will take effect Sept. 1, covering any relevant acts from that day forward.
“Lobbying for this bill was the purpose in my pain,” Wiley said.
Wiley came forward on 20/20 to reveal that commercial at-home DNA testing had proven that the sperm donor whom she had long believed to be her biological father, was actually not biologically related to her at all.
Instead, Wiley followed her DNA trail back to the physician, Dr. Kim McMorries, who had provided fertility treatment to her mother back in the 1980s and who ultimately acknowledged using his own sperm to inseminate Wiley’s mother, Margo Williams.
In an email to Wiley, McMorries told her that he had resorted to adding his own sperm — donated when he had been a medical student — in Margo’s artificial insemination after five previous attempts with sperm from the donor she had selected failed.
“Since I had been a donor while in medical school…I spoke with one of my mentors…and he said they were having better success by mixing samples,” McMorries said. “He suggested first taking the patient’s husband’s [sic] sample and combining it with the donor. … If the husband’s sample was too poor, then combining two donor samples might do better.”
“The thinking at that time was that if the patient got pregnant, there was no way to know which sperm affected the conception,” McMorries continued. “No one ever considered the effect of genetic testing 32 years later. I believe this may have been what happened in your mother’s case.”
On the critical issue of consent, McMorries insisted that after the repeated failures with the donor’s sperm, he had discussed with Wiley’s mother the idea of mixing in an anonymous local donor’s sperm with other selected donor sperm to increase the chances of conception. He said she had agreed to proceed in this fashion. He would never have proceeded, he said, without her consent.
Williams, however, firmly denied that any such conversation ever took place. To the contrary, she recalled telling him explicitly that she did not want to use a local donor, fearing the distant possibility that her child could one day unknowingly date a half-sibling.
“Absolutely not,” Williams told ABC News. “That would never have been a conversation we had. … That just didn’t happen.”
McMorries acknowledged that he never told Williams that the local sperm he was using was his own. He could not tell her, he said, because of the anonymity agreement he signed when he made the donation.
The physician apologized to Wiley “for all the grief this has caused you and your family” but defended himself by stressing that changing attitudes had merely put his past conduct in a new light.
“It is easy to look back and judge protocols/standards used 33 years ago and assume they were wrong in today’s environment,” McMorries wrote. “However, it was not wrong 33 years ago as that was acceptable practice for the times.”
For Wiley, the explanation was not enough and she has been determined to fight for accountability and patient rights going forward.
“I had a duty to inform other potential victims,” Wiley said regarding her focus on legislative change. “I have not made this about [the doctor], I have made it about protecting women’s reproductive rights and the importance of consent.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.