IVF Mix-Ups And Other Complications A Sign Of The Times?

Seems to be a sign of the times we are living in when the remote risk of confusing embryos, sperm or eggs (or other reproductive ‘tissues’) materializes and couples worlds apart get the ‘wrong’ babies? Or when a single person fathers tens or hundreds of babies? Or when public funds will pay for cycles when the outcome is hopeless? 

Or is there something wrong with the system?

There has been a lot of media coverage lately about trouble with the fertility business. Let’s take a quick look:


  • Norman Barwin, owner of Broadview Fertility Clinic, Ottawa, accused of implanting his own sperm in clients 11 times according to a lawsuit .

  • Publicly funded IVF in Ontario (paid for by OHIP) is not all it may seem to be. There are multiple identified problems including:

    • Allegations of reduced quality of medicine. One reason is that doctors are paid by the transaction and may therefore be conflicted when they suggest to patients to undergo treatment when that treatment is not necessarily in the patient’s best interest (i.e. hopeless outcome)

    • Allegations that doctors attempt to deliver medical services to patients before they ‘age-out’ of the public funded system.

    • Allegations that fertility clinics pool their allotment of ‘medical transactions’, meaning a larger clinic, with more fertility doctors, can apply to get more covered IVF cycles than a smaller clinic. This has lead to amalgamation of clinics for economic (OHIP related) reasons rather than patient care reasons.

    • Allegations that patient care does not come first, rather fertility clinics are organized in the best way to exhaust public funding.

    • Unfair or inequitable access to public funds for IVF. By this we do not mean the age restriction, which is itself a possible issue, rather we refer to patients placing their names on multiple lists to try to get funding, rather than making choices solely based on what is medically best for them.


United States

This is but a short list of issues plaguing the fertility business. 

It is untenable to compare medical systems in such diverse countries as the United States, Canada and Holland. However, it is tell-tale that although each system is different, each country appears to experience similar issues.

The problems are infrequent when compared to the absolute number of IVF cycles completed around the world each year. But, given what is at stake, even one error (or one bad apple) is one too many.

It’s time to take some power back. Reproductive rights (and by extension women’s rights) have always come second or third or worse, when pit against economic issues, men’s rights (that list is extensive), or other more ‘pressing’ matters. 

Each person must make a conscious decision, assert their rights, and choose their path when deciding how she wishes to address reproductive health. Don’t be pushed by the system into choosing what is not right for you.