Ottawa doctor admits to act of professional misconduct in inseminations case

The Canadian Press

TORONTO - A renowned Ottawa doctor accused of artificially inseminating three women with the wrong sperm has admitted to committing an act of professional misconduct.

Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin appeared before a College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario discipline panel in Toronto today.

An agreed statement of facts says Barwin and an expert review were "unable to identify any evident errors in the conduct of the artificial inseminations or in Dr. Barwin's office policies and procedures."

But it adds Barwin "accepts that errors in his practice, which would fall below the standard of care, resulted in his failure to provide his patients with offspring from their intended biological fathers."

The medical college has not yet handed down punishment for Barwin, a celebrated gynecologist. But both sides are proposing two months suspended licence, a reprimand and paying for cost of proceedings.

Barwin agreed last year to stop the practice of insemination after the college filed its notice of hearing.

The medical college alleged that three of Barwin's patients discovered their children aren't biologically related to their husband or, in one case, the patient's chosen donor.

Two women with the same allegations sued Barwin a few years ago. The lawsuits were resolved last year, but neither the women's lawyer nor Barwin's lawyer could discuss the terms.

Barwin was invested in the Order of Canada in 1997 for his "profound impact on both the biological and psycho-social aspects of women's reproductive health."

A write-up on the Governor General's website says he has contributed greatly to the Planned Parenthood movement and the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada.

He founded the non-profit, pro-choice organization Canadians for Choice, which gives away an annual Dr. Norman Barwin Scholarship to a graduate student studying sexual health and reproductive rights.