After Finding Out Her Biological Father Was Her Mom’s Fertility Doctor, A Texas Woman Now Pushes For Law Changes
This crime is only illegal in three states.
DNA tests have become more and more popular and the number of people accusing their doctors of fertility fraud is skyrocketing. Fertility fraud is a crime where the fertility doctor uses unauthorized sperm, usually his own, to artificially impregnate the patient. It is a crime that has shocked and effected many lives of parents and children. One of them is Eve Wiley, a 32-year old Texas woman, who at 16 found out that she was conceived via insemination. Later on in life, she had to realize that her biological father was a complete stranger.
"You build your whole life on your genetic identity, and that’s the foundation," Wiley told the New York Times. "But when those bottom bricks have been removed or altered, it can be devastating."
According to the New York Times Margo Williams, the mother of Eve Wiley, had visited Dr. Kim McMorries to look for a sperm donor after finding out her husband was infertile. Shortly after her initial visit, Williams got the good news that Dr. McMorries had found a sperm donor in California and the family continued with the reproduction procedure suspecting nothing wrong.
The Times reports:
Mrs. Williams gave birth to a daughter, Eve. Now 32, Mrs. Wiley is a stay-at-home mother in Dallas. In 2017 and 2018, like tens of millions of Americans, she took consumer DNA tests. The results? Her biological father was not a sperm donor in California, as she had been told — Dr. McMorries was. The news left Ms. Wiley reeling.
Dr.McMorries declined any kind of comment through his attorney and members of staff at his clinic.
Before taking the DNA test, Wiley got in contact with the Californian man who she believed was her biological dad and her sperm donor. This man was Steve Scholl, a Los-Angeles-based writer, and publisher. The two spend years developing a “beautiful father-daughter relationship” and he even officiated Wiley’s wedding. Scholl was also obviously very shocked after finding out the DNA results.
"It took me a while to process," he told the Times. "We felt so much like we’d found each other. We didn’t know how the reproductive industry worked. But very quickly, we both decided not to let this change anything for us."
Even more shocking is the fact that these practices are not illegal across the whole country. That is why Wiley has pushed for legislation that would criminalize fertility fraud in Texas, her home state. She pushed for laws that go even further than those already in place in other states like Indiana and California. Texas passed a law in June that forbids doctors from using "human sperm, eggs or embryos from an unauthorized donor." Fertility fraud is now recognized as sexual assault in these three states and doctors who break the law will be registered on the sex offender list.
After hearing about Wiley's story Texas Rep. Stephanie Klick decided to sponsor the bill. Klick is in the opinion that fertility fraud is comparable to rape and challenges people who think that the crime being a form of sexual assault is too harsh or not right.
"It was a very compelling story of deception, and we’re seeing more and more cases of assisted reproduction being used improperly," Klick said. "We need to make sure that what happened doesn’t happen again [...] There's a physical aspect to it—there is a medical device that is being used to penetrate these women to deliver the genetic material. I equate it with rape, because there's no consent."
In the Times article, you can read about previously reported cases of fertility fraud. The accused doctors include Dr. Donald Cline, Dr. Norman Barwin, Dr. Jan Karbaat and the late Dr. Gary Don Davis. As an example, Dutch Dr. Jan Karbaat was accused of being the biological father of 56 children. The authorities closed his practice in 2009 and he died in April 2017.
Dr. Jody Madeira, a law professor at Indiana University, told the Times that she has been tracking almost two dozen cases of fertility fraud across the United States, Europe, and South Africa. Madeira’s theory is that some fertility doctors might have used their own sperm because they didn’t have access to donor banks or frozen sperm right away.
"They could have self-justified their malfeasance in an era of 'doctor knows best,'" Madeira said. "In their minds, they may just have been helping their patients by increasing their chances of getting pregnant with fresh sperm for higher fertilization rates."
Madeira also thinks that some doctors "may have had darker motivations."
"I would bet a lot of these doctors had power reasons for doing this—mental health issues, narcissistic issues—or maybe they were attracted to certain women."