Uncommon Misconceptions: Holding Physicians Accountable for Insemination Fraud

Recently, international headlines announced that four separate OB/GYNS inseminated unsuspecting patients with their own sperm from the 1970s through early 1990s. Decades later, genetic testing would reveal their transgressions. Strangely, Drs. Norman Barwin of Ottawa, Canada; Donald Cline of Indianapolis, Indiana; Gerald Mortimer of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Ben Ramaley of Greenwich, Connecticut; and John Boyd Coates of Berlin, Vermont were not the first such offenders—in fact, according to a 1987 survey by the federal Office of Technology Assessment, approximately two percent of fertility doctors who responded had used their own sperm to inseminate patients. Cecil Jacobson was convicted of federal mail and wire fraud, travel fraud, and perjury in the mid-1990s. In Europe, Dr. Jan Karbaat (now deceased) allegedly used his own sperm to father at least twelve children (from eight to thirty-six years old, according to a 2017 New York Times article). Not surprisingly, this conduct landed all three physicians in legal hot water; Jacobson was convicted on federal charges for mail, travel, and wire fraud; Cline pled guilty to obstruction of justice for lying about his actions, and Barwin and Mortimer face civil suits.

Publication Date:
Apr 03 2019
Date Submitted:
Aug 13 2019
Law & Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, 37, 1

 Record created 2019-08-13, last modified 2019-08-14

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