City Councilman John Ray has introduced a bill to license and regulate artificial insemination in the District. Action on the bill is expected early this year. If passed, it will be the most sweeping such law in any major U.S. jurisdiction and the only one in the Washington area.

The bill would require screening for genetic and sexually transmitted diseases, limit to one successful pregnancy the number of semen usages from any individual and prohibit payment of donors.

Only Ohio has a law on the books that is anywhere near as broad. Additionally, the bill would require licensing of clinics and other businesses (such as a private physicians) doing artificial insemination by donor.

According to a spokeswoman for the council's regulatory affairs committee, which Ray heads, there are three artificial insemination services in the District: Washington Fertility Center, Columbia Hospital for Women's reproductive endocrinology division (affiliated with Georgetown University), George Washington medical center's division of endocrinology and fertility.

A new center at Providence Hospital in the District, specializing in the gamete intra-fallopian transfer technique (GIFT), where an egg is fertilized in a woman's fallopian tube instead of in a laboratory dish, opens this month.

Under Ray's bill, anyone offering artificial insemination would be responsible for testing for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as for three genetic disorders: sickle cell anemia, a life-threatening condition occurring primarily among blacks; thalassemia, an anemia found in ethnic groups of Mediterranean basin ancestry; and Tay-Sachs disease, a fatal, degenerative disease occurring chiefly among Jews of eastern European descent and French Canadians.

Clients wishing screening of prospective donors for other genetic diseases for which reliable tests exist, such as hemophilia and phenylketonuria (PKU), may have this done at extra cost.