October 6, 2022

Leading Canadian fertility doctor in disgrace

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is to hold a hearing about various allegations against a leading fertility and pro-choice doctor.

Applications for the C$2,500 Norman Barwin scholarship for reproductive health will be open for Canadian graduate students until October 19. Candidates will be selected for their commitment to sexual and reproductive health and rights and to pro-choice values and reproductive justice.

However, a dark and dismal cloud is hanging over the inspiration for the award: Norman Barwin, recipient of the Order of Canada and several honorary doctorates, and a former president of Canadians for Choice, the Canadian Fertility Society, the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada and Planned Parenthood Ottawa.

Even in advance of appearing before a medical tribunal, he has already agreed to work under a restricted medical licence and will not perform artificial insemination and intrauterine insemination.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is to hold a hearing about various allegations against Dr Barwin, although a date has not been set. The upshot of these is that he failed to maintain the profession’s standard of practice; that his conduct “would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional;” and that he was incompetent in his artificial insemination practice. It is alleged that Barwin artificially inseminated three women with the wrong sperm.

In one of these cases, Trudy Moore and Matthew Guest sought his help in 2006. Ms Moore’s sister Barbara would act as a surrogate and would be inseminated with Matthew’s sperm. However, it emerged that the father is not Mr Guest. Now Ms Moore frets about how to explain this to her daughter. “What do we tell her?” she asked the Globe and Mail in 2010. “How do I tell her it was a mistake without making her feel like she was a mistake?”

Michael Cook
Creative commons
Canada
IVF
professional misconduct