Fertility doctor used own sperm to impregnate patients, regulator says

‘I still felt so violated, I felt dirty, almost as if I’d been raped,’ says alleged victim

Zamira Rahim
Wednesday 26 June 2019 13:54 BST
The doctor was allegedly responsible for more than 50 children being conceived using the wrong sperm
The doctor was allegedly responsible for more than 50 children being conceived using the wrong sperm (Global News)

A Canadian fertility doctor allegedly used his own sperm to inseminate at least 11 women, according to a proposed class-action lawsuit filed by some of his former patients.

He also used the wrong sperm to inseminate dozens of others seeking to conceive, over a career which spanned from the 1970s to 2014.

Bernard Norman Barwin’s behaviour was described as “appalling” and “beyond reprehensible” by Ontario’s medical regulator, which revoked the 80-year-old’s licence on Tuesday.

The doctor had voluntarily given up his licence in 2014, but the regulator’s decision means other medical bodies will be alerted if he tries to practise elsewhere.

A disciplinary committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said the former doctor had betrayed the trust of patients who had asked him for help.

An uncontested statement of facts read before the committee stated more than a dozen patients said they had suffered irreparable harm due to the doctor’s actions.

The panel ruled that Mr Barwin had committed professional misconduct and failed to maintain the medical profession’s standards. It also fined him $10,730 (£6,400).

The former doctor did not attend the hearing but pleaded no contest to the allegations through his lawyer, according to CBC.

The committee’s decision comes after years of news reports and legal battles fought by some of Mr Barwin’s former patients.

Two women sued the doctor in 2010, after discovering that their intended sperm donors were not the fathers of their children.

Nearly a decade later a proposed class-action lawsuit alleges that more than 50 children were conceived using the wrong sperm. Of these, 11 are believed to be Mr Barwin’s biological children.

Mr Barwin previously admitting to professional misconduct when he appeared before a disciplinary committee in 2013.

At the time he told the panel that three women had children whose fathers were not the intended sperm donors, after errors were made.

His alleged actions have wreaked havoc in dozens of families.

“I still felt so violated, I felt dirty, almost as if I’d been raped,” one patient, who has not been publicly named, told the committee.

The woman learned recently that her husband was not the father of their teenage daughter, as an unknown donor’s sperm was used for the conception.

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“It is unfortunate that at this time all we can do is revoke your licence to practise medicine and … deliver this reprimand,” said Steven Bodley, the committee’s chair, addressing the absent Mr Barwin.

“We do, however, take some solace in the fact that you are no longer in a position to cause further harm.”

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