Designed to prevent a repeat of occurrences in other states where thousands of embryos were lost, a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, D-6th District; Raj Mukherji, D-33rd District; and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-37th District, was approved 71-3 in the full Assembly on Monday in concurrence with the Governor’s recommendations.
The bill passed 30-0 in the Senate in August 2019 and now goes to the Governor’s desk.
Inspired by incidents in California and Ohio where more than four thousand eggs and embryos were lost, Assembly Bill 4605 would require the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) to regulate and license embryo storage facilities.
In certain cases, the loss of eggs and embryos was caused by improper monitoring of storage temperature fluctuations — an operational issue that could have been avoided. The legislation looks to guard against such operational mishaps as well as long-term power outages during natural disasters or catastrophic storage system failures.
“Families attempting to conceive face a number of physical and emotional challenges,” said Lampitt. “They put their hopes and dreams of conceiving into the embryos stored in these facilities. To have those dreams shattered due to a preventable operating failure is unimaginable.”
An embryo storage facility cryopreserves and stores human eggs, pre-embryos, and embryos for later use during in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, gamete transfer, pronuclear stage transfer and zygote transfer, as well as other procedures performed to achieve a pregnancy or pregnancies.
Under the bill, facilities, as well as licensed health care providers that store human eggs, pre-embryos or embryos, would only be allowed to operate if granted a license by the DOH. It would also become a third-degree crime to operate an embryo storage facility without licensure or to misrepresent such licensure to consumers.
Under the bill, the DOH would be required to establish guidelines for the storage and care of human eggs, pre-embryos, and embryos by a facility. Guidelines for operation would also be established in accordance with nationally and internationally recognized standards, and would require facilities to comply with state and local safety protocols. The legislation further provides for unannounced on-site facility inspections to monitor and examine the physical facilities, as well as the maintenance of certain documents and data.
The Governor’s recommendation extends the bill’s effective date by seven months providing additional time for implementation by the DOH as this regulatory program will be the first of its kind in the nation.