I just took a DNA test, turns out, I’m 100%… bamboozled? Jacqueline Mroz at New York Times recently investigated the horrifying stories of people born through artificial insemination who learned from DNA tests later in life that their biological fathers were actually the doctors who performed the procedure on their mothers.
Three decades ago, Margo Williams sought help from Dr. Kim McMorries and kindly asked him to locate her a sperm donor as her husband was infertile. Dr. McMorries told her that he’d found one in a Californian sperm bank. Williams went ahead with the procedure and gave birth to Eve Wiley, who learned at 16 that her biological father was a sperm donor.
A few years ago, she decided to take a consumer DNA test to learn more about her heritage, and was traumatized for life to find out that the sperm actually came from her mother’s fertility doctor. Now a 32-year-old, Wiley told NYTimes, “you build your whole life on your genetic identity, and that’s the foundation. But when those bottom bricks have been removed or altered, it can be devastating.”
Marenda Tucker, 36, also took a DNA test to find out more about her biology, as her mother had previously told her that her biological father was an anonymous sperm donor from the South. She found the same terrifying fact – it was her mother’s doctor. Upon acknowledgement, her mother “felt violated.” A reporter later called Dr. Gary Don Davis regarding Tucker’s conception, and the retired physician said, “well, that’s surprising. Let me check on that. Goodbye.”
Further attempts to reach him were unsuccessful, and he died in June.
Incidents like this have begun to surface in the recent years as consumer DNA testing becomes a rather common practice. This June, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario found that Ottawa’s Dr Norman Barwin had inseminated at least 11 women with his own sperm.
According to Indiana‘s state prosecutors, during the 70’s and 80’s, Dr. Donald Cline used his own sperm to impregnate at least three dozen women. Based on DNA testing, 61 people now claim he is their biological father. Cline pleaded guilty to two felony obstruction of justice charges after lying to state investigators. Retired in 2009, he surrendered his medical license in 2018 and was given only a one-year suspended sentence – simply because there were no laws in place to prohibit this conduct and prosecutors could not press for a tougher sentence.
Even now, only three U.S states have passed laws criminalizing this misconduct in an unregulated industry. In May, Indiana passed a law to make it a felony and gives victims the right to sue doctors for it. And in June, it was the aforementioned Eve Wiley that pushed for Texas to define “fertility fraud” as a form of sexual assault; those “doctor daddies” found guilty must register as sex offenders.
Texas state Rep Stephanie Klick, who is also a nurse, commented on the physical aspect: “There is a medical device that is being used to penetrate these women to deliver the genetic material. I equate it with rape, because there’s no consent. It’s creepy. It violates so many different boundaries on a professional level.“