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Accepted Paper:

Fertility fraud: can the unethical be transformed into the criminal?  
Jennifer Speirs (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

An increasing number of cases have come to light recently of infertility clinicians in the past using their own semen to impregnate their female patients. The discoveries have been made accidentally through using DNA kits, as people have searched for genetic kin. Is this elite immorality criminal?

Paper long abstract:

Doctors who provide infertility treatment to help involuntarily childless people have reported feelings of compassion and a desire to help to create families. This is true also of semen donors although as with doctors, the motivation has also been one of seeking financial gain. Nevertheless research has shown that doctors attempted to minimise risks to the patients and to the donor-conceived children by recruiting 'reliable' donors from a good family background who would be unlikely to pass on 'bad genes' and sexually transmittable diseases.

When doctors used their own semen, they were violating the well known biomedical ethical principles of respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice. The discovery of their behaviour has caused detriment to donor offspring and has put them at risk of unwitting incest with their secretly related siblings.

Why did they do it? Most of the perpetrators discovered to date are retired or have died, leaving no clues as to their motivation. Those who have spoken allegedly have been evasive. Speculation suggests that they were saving the cost of recruiting donors, or enjoyed the opportunity of sexual gratification, or believed in their right to spread their own genes - or all of these. Donor offspring have questioned why this behaviour has not been treated as criminal, which would at least offer the possibility of compensation, and act as a deterrent. However, given the increasing use of DNA testing, state regulation and professional codes of practice, there may be hope that such behaviour will not be repeated.

Panel P157
Crimes of the Powerful: Past, Present and Future [AnthroCrime]
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -