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Disciplinary hearing today for former fertility doctor alleged to have used her sperm to inseminate women



A former Ottawa fertility doctor who allegedly used his own sperm to inseminate patients is the subject of a disciplinary hearing in Toronto today.

In a hearing notice on its website, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario claims Norman Barwin is incompetent and committed an act of professional misconduct "that would be considered by the members as shameful, dishonorable or unprofessional."

Specifically, Barwin is accused of having used his own sperm without the knowledge or consent of people who sought insemination treatments as well as incorrect sperms that were not his.

He is also accused of having wrongly responded to the college while investigating his practice.

Barwin admitted to committing professional misconduct when he appeared before the Ontario College Disciplinary Committee in 2013, saying that mistakes in his practice had left three patients with children whose birth parents were not the ones they intended.

The commission suspended him from practicing medicine for two months, but Barwin gave up his license the following year.

Carolyn Silver, the college's general counsel, said Barwin should not plead any dispute, "which means he will not contest the allegations that have been referred to the discipline committee and that the college will read the facts alleged against him."

Barwin has already given up his medical leave, but the college could revoke him if he was found guilty of those additional reasons. This would alert other medical regulators if he applies to practice medicine elsewhere.

He may also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $ 35,000, or receive an order to reimburse the college for costs.

If Barwin does not contest and the commission finds him incompetent and involved in professional misconduct, it is expected that the impact statements of the victims will be heard at Tuesday's hearing, Silver said.

"Lives have changed forever"

Rebecca Dixon, who said she had learned when Barwin was 25, was among the individuals expected to read a statement.

"It was important for me to be there to remind everyone that there is a real human impact on what he did," said Dixon, now 29.

"This has resulted in real people, real people whose lives have been changed forever because of their actions."

Rebecca Dixon, left, with her parents Davina and Dan Dixon. Rebecca Dixon is expected to read the statement of the victim's impact at the hearing on Tuesday. (Subject)

Dixon's parents approached Barwin to help conceive in 1989.

According to the family, she was born the following summer, but an online DNA test showed that her lineage was almost 60% of the Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.

Barwin is a well-known member of the Jewish community of Ottawa.

Dixon's DNA was then compared to the DNA of another 25-year-old woman, also conceived at the Broadview Fertility Clinic, whom Barwin said in October 2015 via e-mail that he was her biological father.

Dixon said it's been an emotionally challenging journey, but it's important for her to have the chance to speak at the hearing.

"This is not acceptable, and I hope it encourages even more conversation and reflection on the fertility industry, and its regulation and monitoring in the province and across Canada," she said.

"Obviously, it changed my whole understanding of my own identity."

Dixon is one of 11 plaintiffs in a class action suit accusing Barwin of using his own sperm to inseminate clients.

Peter Cronyn, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told CBC News that the lawsuit also includes dozens of people who discovered that sperm used in conceiving their children did not come from the father or the donor.

Cronyn said they are still working to get the class action certified and a potential resolution. So far, none of the allegations have been tested in court.


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