Fiona Ma for State Assembly
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Bills would help protect public

Two San Bernardino County legislators have introduced sensible bills to protect the public health.

State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair, has a bill that would establish accreditation standards and guidelines for the operation of fertility clinics.

And Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Rancho Cucamonga, has a bill that would require public swimming pools to install anti-entrapment drain covers to prevent children from drowning.

McLeod's Senate Bill 674 is a response to the well-publicized saga of octuplet mom Nadya Suleman of Whittier, who gave birth to six boys and two girls on Jan. 26. Suleman already had six children, and she has said Dr. Michael Kamrava of Beverly Hills helped her conceive all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization treatments.

McLeod's bill would redefine fertility clinics and surgical centers as "outpatient settings," which would put them under the jurisdiction of the California Medical Board and its approved accrediting agencies. Her bill would also require the establishment of standardized procedures and protocols to be followed in the event of serious complications or side effects from surgery at a surgical center and to govern emergency and urgent care situations.

Fertility experts say their industry is self-regulating and does not need such oversight. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine had guidelines for appropriate in vitro fertilization, which recommend just two embryos for women under age 35, and more for older women. Suleman is 33; clearly in her case the guidelines were not followed.

McLeod's legislation could help protect not only public health, but also the public purse. Suleman has no husband, no job, lives with her mother and has depended on public assistance to take care of her brood. Any doctor who would implant eight embryos in her calls his ethics into question.

Emmerson says the public pool bill he and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, introduced "is just common sense."

His office says there were 74 incidents of "circulation entrapment," 54 of them involving children, reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission between 1999 and 2007. Nine were fatalities.

Circulation entrapment refers to a person, usually a child, becoming stuck to a swimming pool's or spa's drain due to water suction, or when a limb gets caught in a drain with a broken or missing cover.

"I'm surprised these anti-entrapment devices aren't already required by law," Emmerson said.

His bill would require one of a number of kinds of anti-entrapment devices be installed in any public pool built or altered after Dec. 19, and retrofitted on all existing public pools within two years of that date.

Both these public health bills should pass the Legislature.