DNA Testing Reveals Dozens of Kids Were Fathered By Fertility Doctors, Not Sperm Donors

Twenty20

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Twenty20

Like many people, 32-year-old Eve Wiley bought a DNA testing kit to learn more about her genetic history. The stay-at-home mom from Nacogdoches, Texas, had known since she was 16 years old that she was conceived using a sperm donor, The New York Times reported, but after receiving her results, she was shocked to learn that her biological father was the fertility doctor who helped her parents get pregnant -- and she isn't alone.

  • Wiley's is one of many cases of fertility fraud that have become public as the popularity of DNA kits rises.

    Wiley explained to The New York Times that her now 65-year-old mother had gone to Dr. Kim McMorries to be artificially inseminated using a sperm donor. McMorries told Margo Williams that he had found a donor through a sperm bank in California -- only he lied and used his own sample instead.

    “You build your whole life on your genetic identity, and that’s the foundation,” Wiley explained. “But when those bottom bricks have been removed or altered, it can be devastating.”

    Unfortunately, Wiley isn't the only one grappling with the stunning realization that their paternity is different than what they had believed. As more people investigate their genetic backgrounds using consumer DNA testing kits, like 23andMe, more of them are realizing their biological fathers are the same men who promised to help their mothers get pregnant.

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  • Three states, including Texas, have made it illegal for fertility doctors to use their own sperm to impregnate their patients.

    They've classified the act as sexual assault. Right now, there are 20 open cases in the US and abroad and they're happening across dozens of states in America including Connecticut, Vermont, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Abroad, there are cases in England, South Africa, Germany, and the Netherlands.

    In the Netherlands, the Dutch Donor Child Foundation confirmed that DNA testing revealed that Dr. Jan Karbaat had fathered 56 children with women who had visited his clinic. Police closed his clinic in 2009, but a Rotterdam lawyer J.P. Vandervoodt explained to The New York TImes that when the abuse was going on it might have been looked at differently.

    “Thirty years ago, people looked at things in very different ways,” said Vandervoodt. “Dr. Karbaat could have been an anonymous donor -- we don’t know that. There was no registration system at the time.” Karbaat died in 2017 at 89 years old.

    Similarly, in June the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario revoked Dr. Norman Barwin's license and reprimanded him for using his own sperm on patients. The Canadian doctor allegedly inseminated 11 women with his own sperm and later dozens of donor children came out and said they had been conceived with the wrong donor sample while their parents were patients at his clinics.

  • Now Wiley is using her own experience to push for stronger laws against this type of abuse.

    The mom met with legislators to demand better accountability in an industry she believes to be largely unregulated.

    In June, Texas passed a fertility-fraud law that stated that if a health care provider uses human sperm, eggs, or embryos from an unauthorized donor it is technically sexual assault. If found guilty, the health care provider must register as a sex offender. 

    But some people think the measure goes too far. Judith Daar, dean of the Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, explained to The New York Times that she felt calling the act sexual assault was too extreme. “Using that language, and imposing the ramifications that assault imposes, is highly problematic and more harmful than helpful," she said.

    Speaking of Wiley's case specifically, Republican state representative Stephanie Klick explained to the newspaper that her testimony had helped the cause. “It was a very compelling story of deception, and we’re seeing more and more cases of assisted reproduction being used improperly. We need to make sure that what happened doesn’t happen again," she said.

    “There’s a physical aspect to it -- there is a medical device that is being used to penetrate these women to deliver the genetic material,” added Klick, who is also a nurse,. “I equate it with rape, because there’s no consent.”

    “It’s creepy,” she said. “It violates so many different boundaries on a professional level.”

    As more and more cases of fertility fraud are discovered, here's hoping that more states will take action against health care providers who take advantage of their patients' trust.

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