CFAS Virtual Session: Ethics & Law Round Table - Low Probability and High Stakes: Misdirected Embryos and Gametes

December 1, 2022, 12:00 - 2:00 PM

Join us for a CFAS Virtual Session: Ethics & Law Round Table 'Low-Probability, High-Stakes: Misdirected Embryos and Gametes' on Thursday, December 1st from 12:00 to 2:00 pm EST on the Zoom Webinar platform, with speakers:


Aviva Coopersmith: In 1989, Norman Barwin, a respected fertility doctor, helped my mother to conceive me with donated sperm. Decades later, we discovered that Barwin was secretly inseminating patients, including my mother, with sperm that he had no right to use - sometimes even his own. This presentation will detail the process of discovering the identity of my biological father, and the effects that Barwin's actions had on hundreds of his patients and their offspring. It will also examine the calls for industry and regulatory change being made by those affected by fertility fraud, including for an end to anonymous sperm donation.


Scot Hamilton: Most ART laboratories handle many thousands of patient samples (gametes and embryos) on an annual basis. Unlike patients, these entities are unable to identify themselves to the staff responsible for their handling. In addition, many gametes and embryos are thawed prior to their transfer to patients, often after years of storage. Over the years, numerous reports have arisen describing the transfer of gametes and embryos to the incorrect patient. Although these events are extremely rare, they are extremely devastating for both the patients and the organizations involved. The presentation will provide a description of current and past process for ensuring accurate identity of gametes and embryos. Sources of error and solutions to preventing errors will also be discussed.


Shawn Winsor: This presentation will consider the subject from two distinct lens:  medical ethics and public health ethics. The former considers the individual interests of the patient primarily while the latter situates the problem within a frame of collective interests, those of ART clinics, communities of professionals working in them, and the society in which both exist and depend.


Jody Madeira: This presentation will first define illicit insemination and discuss typical fact patterns. It will then outline applicable bioethics principles and standards of care, and how illicit insemination is unethical and against standards, including violating patients' trust in physicians and in reproductive medicine as a practice. The presentation will then chronicle the lived experience of illicit insemination for former patients and their adult doctor-conceived children. The presentation will conclude by outlining what measures have been taken to hold physicians accountable.


A certificate of attendance is available with registration to this event. This event is restricted to members only. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants closer to the date.