A fertility doctor in Canada, 82-year-old Norman Barwin, has been accused of inseminating more than 100 women with his own sperm instead of their husbands’ sperm. DNA tests revealed that Barwin is the father of at least 17 children after impregnating women who came for fertility treatment with his own sperm. Barwin has agreed to make a settlement of USD $10.7 million to the women, their children, and others still trying to determine their paternity.
But the family doctor would not agree to wrongdoing in the saga. He continues to maintain his innocence, saying he is not guilty, but only agreed to the settlement because of the huge costs of prosecuting legal cases. The family of Daniel and Davina Dixon filed a lawsuit against Barwin in 2016 and more than 200 other families joined the class-action lawsuit after they found their children may not have biologically been their own.
“The settlement of the class action provides compensation to those patients and their children where the DNA of the children is not as was intended by the parents at the time of the artificial insemination performed by Barwin,” said Nelligan Law, the law firm representing the complainants. “It also provides compensation to former patients who had entrusted their semen with Barwin either for safe-keeping or for a specific intended use, but which was used by Barwin in the insemination of another patient, and which resulted in offspring.”
Daniel and Davina Daniel visited Barwin in 1989 because they were having difficulty conceiving. After a number of sessions, Davina got pregnant and Rebecca was birthed in 1990. Rebecca has brown eyes while her “parents” have blue eyes, and she also has celiac disease, which is usually hereditary. In 2016, the Daniels found out through a DNA test that Rebecca was actually not Daniel’s daughter but was conceived with Barwin’s sperm.
When the news went public, hundreds of other families came out to state they had doubts about the paternity of their own children, and several DNA revealed that this is actually the case. In 17 cases, the children were found to be Barwin’s, and numerous other families cannot determine the paternity of their children after finding the DNA is not that of the children’s purported fathers.
“I think it is challenging that money is the only thing that is offered and not a direct admission of responsibility from Barwin,” Rebecca Daniel said. “I am not sure we will ever achieve closure. It is something that will be with us for the rest of our lives. But the legal side wrapping up will allow people to come to a bit more peace with the situation.”
Many of the allegations of paternity fraud against Barwin date back to 1970 when he worked with the Ottawa General Hospital and then another clinic in the province. Barwin resigned from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario in 2014, but the college revoked his certificate on the basis of incompetence in 2019 and was tasked him to pay a fine. However, he has stopped practicing family medicine since 2014.