After being contacted years ago by a client whose embryos were inadvertently destroyed, I fought to hold the fertility clinic accountable for its negligence. Once the issue became public, more families approached us with their own tragic fertility-clinic stories. It was only then that we realized how rampant and reckless certain fertility clinics and fertility doctors across the country truly are. Since then, we have proudly represented hundreds of the strongest and most amazing families in a number of fertility issues.
Now, every January and February (and most other months of the year), I receive calls from potential clients who just learned devastating news: their fertility doctor secretly inserted his own sperm into them, without their knowledge or consent. Some refer to this as medical rape. Others call it fertility fraud. But whatever the name for it, this heinous act is wrong, unethical, and illegal.
How could this happen? Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, artificial insemination started becoming more popular. Typically, a male doctor would tell his female patient that he could procure sperm—usually through a sperm bank or medical resident—and inseminate his client to achieve a pregnancy. He usually would inform his patient that the sperm would come from an anonymous donor who resembled the patient’s husband, had certain genetic traits, or identified with a particular religion. Regardless, it was clear the sperm would come from someone the patient did not know.
Most of the individuals who are the product of fertility fraud will be 30-45 years old, reflecting the advent of inexpensive and widely available home DNA testing kits, such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe. Often purchased as holiday presents, these kits unlock fascinating mysteries about our genetic and medical history. But they also have revealed a dark and insidious underbelly of fertility practices: fertility doctors did not always procure sperm from someone else, but instead used their own sperm.
This hideous practice is a serious violation of the female patient’s body. Everyone should have a right to dictate what goes into her body. No doctor—and nobody at all—can dictate that for another.
This is why we represent victims against their fertility doctors. Thus far, we have represented dozens of fertility fraud victims. Sadly, that number will increase.
The only good news is that our lawsuits have focused a spotlight on the offending doctors and their horrific actions. Examples can be found here, here, and here. Standing beside our clients, we’ve been able to provide a platform for other families to step forward and tell their stories. We hope that, through this work, this misconduct will never happen again.
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Peiffer Wolf is nationally recognized for representing victims of fertility clinic misconduct and fertility doctor misconduct, including destruction or loss of eggs and embryos. If you or your family have been the victim of a reckless or negligent fertility clinic, fertility medical center, or fertility doctor, Contact Us by calling 415-766-3545 or by filling out an online Contact Form for a FREE Consultation.