Doctor Who Used His Own or Wrong Sperm to Artificially Inseminate 50 to 100 Women Fined $8K

A fertility doctor found to have used either his own sperm or the wrong sperm when he artificially inseminated between 50 and 100 patients has been stripped of his medical license and fined less than $8,000.
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A fertility doctor found to have used either his own sperm or the wrong sperm when he artificially inseminated between 50 and 100 patients has been stripped of his medical license and fined less than $8,000.

Norman Barwin, 80, was not present on Tuesday as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario called his actions in inseminating at least 11 women with his own sperm “beyond reprehensible.”

“Your patients represent a group who were vulnerable and who placed themselves and their families completely in your trust,” said disciplinary committee chair Dr. Steven Bodley, addressing the disgraced doctor directly through Barwin’s attorney, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

“You betrayed that trust and by your actions deeply affected individuals and their families and caused irreparable damage that will span generations.”

Once known as the “baby god” for his talent in helping his patients conceive, Barwin was well-known and respected for his work, which reportedly included pioneering work with the LGBTQ+ and trans communities. 

Then in 2013, Barwin was suspended from practicing medicine for two months after several patients said their children did not share DNA with their fathers. He then voluntarily gave up his license in 2014 after another former patient made a similar complaint. 

At least 16 children of individuals who sought out Barwin’s medical expertise have allegedly confirmed he is their biological father, including 11 who are part of a class-action lawsuit against him. 

The panel that ultimately revoked Barwin’s license heard evidence from 13 cases dating back to 1978 in which children of his patients were conceived using either his own sperm or the wrong sperm.  

Barwin’s former patients and their families delivered impact statements during the hearing, including one woman who said her teenage daughter does not know the man who raised her is not her biological dad

She had been assured by Barwin that he was inseminating her using her husband’s sperm, even showing her the vial, but she later learned her daughter was fathered by a stranger, she said. 

“I felt so violated, I felt dirty, almost as though I had been raped,” she said in court, the Citizen wrote. 

Rebecca Dixon was 25 when she found out her mother’s fertility doctor was her biological father. 

“I am both evidence and the consequences of these actions,” said Dixon, now 29, after waiving a publication ban on her name. 

Dixon has never met Barwin, but she has connected with and become close to some of her 15 known half-siblings.

“My life changed completely out of the blue,” Dixon said of the revelation of her parentage. “It is embedded into my DNA and it is something that I will pass on to my children and it will keep coming up for the rest of my life.”

Barwin had previously said he used his own sperm to calibrate a piece of equipment, which may have contaminated samples, a claim shot down by Dr. Edward G. Hughes, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practices fertility medicine the college retained. 

Hughes noted that impregnating at least 11 women with one’s own sperm cannot be an accident. 

"For [11] pregnancies to have been sired in this way, over two or more decades, is neither statistically plausible nor believable," he wrote in his review of Barwin’s case. 

None of the allegations in the lawsuit filed by the 11 individuals have been tested in civil court, but Barwin’s legal representation did not contest the facts submitted as evidence Tuesday. 

That Barwin was not present to hear the statements made by his former patients and their families was yet another injustice that they would be made to handle, Bodley, the chair of the committee, said. 

“It seems immensely unfair that you are not here to face the victims of your disgraceful conduct,” he said.

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