Fertility Doctor Fathers 11 Kids With His Patients

A formerly respected fertility doctor in Canada used his own sperm to father 11 children or more over the course of decades with his patients, according to a class action lawsuit.

The complaint says that Doctor Norman Barwin agreed to use an anonymous donor's sperm in some cases or samples from one member of the couple, but he used his own instead. Recent DNA tests show that as a a result Barwin is the biological father of at least 11 children.

In other cases, Barwin treated 16 women who had chosen intended fathers and later gave birth to children who are not biological matches for those men. The complaint says that the fathers are unknown. The inseminations in the lawsuit are from 1970's to the early 2000s.

The first lawsuit was filed in 2016, but was granted a class action status in April 2018 meaning that the attorneys believe that more people may have been affected by Barwin's actions.

Some sperm samples entrusted to Barwin became contaminated with other sperm which makes them unusable. Barwin admitted to mistakenly mixing up the vials of sperm in a hearing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2016.

Barwin was very accomplished in his field and was nicknamed the 'Baby God'. He was inducted into the Order of Canada, the nation's second highest civilian honor, and served as president of the Canadian Fertility Society.

He did lose the Order of Canada in 2013 after pleading guilty to professional misconduct at a hearing with the College of Physicians, which barred him from practicing medicine for two months. Barwin eventually gave up his medical license in 2014.  After the 2013 hearing, Barwin did express regret for his actions.

"I regret I've caused my patients any difficulty," he said. "My intention was always to do my best for them."

Ottawa law firm Nelligan O'Brien Payne said it is developing methods for people potentially affected by Barwin to determine who their biological fathers are and any half-siblings they may have.

The law firm says it has been in contact with more than 150 patients who have been affected by Dr. Barwin’s fertility practice going back as far as 1978.

Comments from Allen:

Looks like people are going to have to add a few dozen more tables and chairs at the next Barwin family reunion, and he may see a large increase in the amount he pays for his kids' weekly allowance.   And I would very much like to know if anyone was in the room with Dr. Barwin and his patients when they were being inseminated.  There are some shortcuts to this procedure which have earned some doctors a lot of time behind bars.

Assuming that the patients were all artificially, not biologically, inseminated by Dr. Barwin, there are several potential problems for the Baby God.  One, permanent loss of his license to practice medicine.

Second, expect multiple counts of criminal fraud. The doctor will trade his lucrative practice for free room and board for several years.

Third, expect civil fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, and other creative actions such as the little-used tort of "outrage," doing a serious wrong to the person, feelings or rights of another.  When you consider what happened to these mothers, it is very much like discovering, after they have borne a child, that their child was the product of rape.  Conceivably, Dr. Barwin could be charged with civil battery, as his patients did not consent to the medical procedure that he performed upon them.  

Further, because of the outrageous nature of the doctor's actions, as opposed to the general medical negligence known as "malpractice," punitive damages are appropriate.  

This lawsuit has been brought as a class action, which means it is anticipated that there will be a great number of victims who will go after all of this doctor's asssets and insurance, and then distribute the proceeds among the victims.  

After this is done, the doctor may well be penniless.  Which means there will be nothing for his children to inherit, and there are quite a few of them out there.


Allen Browning is an attorney in Idaho Falls, Idaho who handles personal injury and criminal defense. He has over 30 years of experience and handled thousands of cases. Allen handles cases from all over Idaho. Call (208) 542-2700 to set up a free consultation if you are facing legal trouble or you have been involved in an accident.

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