‘How do you tell a child she is not related to her father?': Victims speak at disciplinary hearing for fertility doctor
The disciplinary committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has revoked Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin's medical licence.
"Dr. Barwin did the unthinkable. The unimaginable. He engaged in the most horrific violation of his patients' trust and of their bodies," Carolyn Silver, legal counsel for the College, said.
Barwin, who has been ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, is accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate several patients, and of inseminating several women with the wrong sperm.
In an uncontested statement of facts that was read out to the committee on Tuesday morning, the cases of more than a dozen patients were laid out, as people described their "significant pain and suffering" as a result of Barwin's actions.
Several patients and some of the children conceived at the Ottawa fertility doctor's office went on to read their victim impact statements at the hearing, although Barwin was not in attendance.
"I felt like I had something to be ashamed about, and my existence was something to be ashamed of," said a woman in her twenties.
The idea of Barwin being her biological father “repulsed” her and she said it made her feel “contaminated.”
Another woman told the panel, she replayed the day “over and over” in her head.
“Dr. Barwin went out of his way to make sure my husband's name was on the vial… knowing that it was the semen of a complete stranger he was putting in my body,” she said.
"Although it was many years since I discovered this, I felt so violated. I felt dirty, almost as if I'd been raped.”
Another man, who learned his children were not his own, said, "I could never imagine this doctor, the one they called the 'baby God', could be so evil...and hand me another man's semen to impregnate my wife."
Barwin was disciplined in 2013 for artificially inseminating women with the wrong sperm. At the time, he was suspended for two months, and Barwin gave up his medical license the following year.
"Dr. Barwin's patients and their families were the unsuspecting victims of his incomprehensible deception," Silver said in her submissions to the panel on Tuesday.
"While no penalty this panel can impose can undo that harm, the only appropriate penalty in this case, is the immediate revocation of his registration and an order that he appear before you to be reprimanded," she said.
The 80-year-old pleaded 'no contest' to the allegations, through his lawyer Meghan O'Brien.