A recent article in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle highlights the problem of fertility fraud.
The recent phenomenon of genetic ancestry testing has revealed that some physicians running fertility clinics defrauded their patients; while claiming to have used donated sperm to impregnate women via assisted reproduction technologies, the physicians actually used their own sperm. For example, the Democrat & Chronicle reports that a woman from Geneseo, New York found that her obstetrician, Morris Wortman, was her biological father; his fertility clinic had helped her mother to become pregnant years earlier. It’s not the first time the Wortman has been in the news either. Per the D&C, “Wortman in the early 1990s was one of Monroe County’s leading abortion providers; the Democrat and Chronicle reported that he then performed upwards of 1,000 abortions a year.”
Eve Wiley, a woman from Texas, knew that her parents had sought help from a fertility clinic. Some years ago, she located the man that she thought was her biological father. In 2018, however, she found that her actual biological father was the doctor who led the fertility clinic that her parents had visited. Wiley reportedly “discovered there were no regulations or laws that required fertility doctors to ensure that the donors were actually who the physicians claimed them to be. ‘There was informed consent for the procedures, but not informed consent for the reproductive materials,’ she said.” In addition to feeling betrayed, the children of these physicians have been deprived of potentially lifesaving information about their biological fathers’ medical histories. Some cases of fertility fraud have been kept out of the headlines through the use of financial settlements and nondisclosure agreements.
A bill sponsored by New York Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh) would attempt to prevent fertility fraud. The bill would reportedly make it a crime to use sperm from anyone “other than the person purported to be the donor.” The bill would also allow for lawsuits for money damages. Because the dishonesty involved in fertility fraud is worthy of punishment, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms supports the proposed legislation in concept; however, we also believe it is appropriate for the State of New York to consider whether some of the assisted reproductive technologies that are in use in our state should be occurring in the first place.