In the United States, in the state of Indiana, a proposed bill aims to make it a criminal offence for a doctor, in the context of infertility treatment, to use either his own sperm without the consent of his patient or to use the sperm of a donor without his consent.
This proposal comes after the discovery that Dr Donald Cline, in the 1970s and 1980s, inseminated numerous patients at his infertility practice with his own sperm. Current Indiana law does not consider these acts a crime, despite their consequences for families.
After a DNA test in 2015, Jacoba Ballard, one of the children conceived with Dr Cline’s sperm, told the Washington Post: “My mother was violated. He took advantage of her in one of the most vulnerable moments of her life”. In 2017, Dr Cline was arraigned and charged with obstruction of justice because he had lied to the investigators. The charge against him related to his deception of investigators only, and not to the deception of his patients. He received a one-year suspended prison sentence, a $500 fine, and revocation of his medical license. For Jacoba Ballard and the fifty other victims of Dr Cline’s actions, these sanctions “are not enough”.
This case is far from unique. In the Netherlands, Dr Jan Karbaat used his own sperm to inseminate twelve of his patients. In Canada, Dr Norman Barwin inseminated 11 women with his own sperm.
Jacoba Ballard hopes that this bill will be brought before the Indiana General Assembly in January 2019.